At a heated Knesset debate Tuesday, MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud-Beytenu) accused the supporters of legislation limiting the carrying of firearms by citizens of a deliberate move to limit citizens' ability to defend themselves against nationalistic and criminal threats.
The Knesset's Interior Committee convened under the chairmanship of MK David Tzur (Hatnua), was presented with data according to which, in the course of a decade, 12 women had been murdered by their spouses with licensed guns – 11 of them with guns held by security guards in institutions and businesses.
The bill would require gun holders to be checked by a psychologist every six years, and would also make it possible for a social worker to present an opinion regarding the “dangerousness” of a person, thus preventing him from carrying a weapon.
MK Feiglin said that he has no problem with a law that would place stricter regulations on weapon licenses for guards in institutions and businesses, but that he strongly opposes applying the law to private citizens as well.
“Excuse me, I have to ask you a question here,” Feiglin interrupted, when a participant said that even one murder is reason enough to limit firearms. “How many murders could have been averted if the citizen had a weapon? This you do not measure. You had one case in which a private weapon killed someone.”
“...But we are not removing the weapons!” protested Tzur.
Feiglin insisted: “You sure are, because you're creating a system that has lowered the number from 300,000 to 100,000 and you keep passing these laws! We know exactly what is going on here! There is a move here, of collecting guns from the citizens, that is the story here! And you do this because of a single case!"
Feiglin, who heads the Jewish Leadership faction within the Likud, pointed out that the curtailing of rights for citizens to acquire guns legally was happening even as little-to-no effort was being made to crack down on the vast amounts of illegally-held weapons by the Israeli mafia and Arab gangs.
“You don't measure all the cases in which... in effect, you are leaving all of the guns in the Arab villages and the underworld, and the poor citizens who could have defended themselves, you leave exposed. And you claim to do this to protect lives? It's the opposite!”
The organizations advancing the bill call themselves “The Gun on the Kitchen Table Coalition”, and are part of a worldwide movement. The coalition includes extremely radical leftist organizations, like the New Profile, which encourages draft evasion, and Coalition of Women for Peace, which supports the Palestinian Arab “right of return.”
Despite the relatively common presence of off-duty soldiers and security guards carrying weapons, which often surprises visitors to the country, gun laws for privately-owned weapons in Israel are far stricter than in many other countries, such as the US.
Out of a population of nearly 8 million, there are only an estimated 157,000 privately-owned guns, almost all of them handguns. Most Israeli gun-owners posses weapons for professional reasons - for example police and security guards - or because they live in an area with a higher security risk such as Judea and Samaria.
MK Feiglin voted against the bill, as did MK Zevulun Kalfa (Jewish Home), but they failed to block it. MKs Tzur, Moshe Mizrachi (Labor) and Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid) voted in favor.