Mike Huckabee, the former Governor of Arkansas and current host of a cable chat show, reacted to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida Wednesday by comparing Israeli gun safety policy to America’s. Twitter was … skeptical.
“Just waking up in Israel to news of heartbreaking school shooting in FL,” Huckabee tweeted, hours after a gunman killed 17 during a rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “Reminded that Israel pretty much eliminated it by placing highly trained people strategically to spot the one common thread–not the weapon, but a person with intent. #PrayForParkland”
Those who took issue with Huckabee’s analysis claim it isn’t tight security that protects Israel from mass shootings but laws that control who can own and carry a gun and when. Huckabee is a strict supporter of the right to bear arms as stated in the Second Amendment to the Constitution..
“No Governor, Israel NEVER had such a problem,” responded Alon Pinkas, a former Consul General of Israel in New York. “We don’t worship guns, we don’t sell assault rifles to people, we don’t have a genius creation like the NRA (National Rifle Association - ed.), we don’t regard every bunch of guys a ‘well regulated militia’ and we’re pretty much done fighting the British.”
Lawyer and feminist Jill Filipovic referred Huckabee to an article about how Israel restricts gun ownership to those who can prove that their professions or places of residence put them in danger.
“[I]f Huckabee is willing to make US gun laws look more like Israel’s then sure, sign me up,” she wrote.
As JTA’s Ben Sales reported in 2012, the ubiquity of gun-toting soldiers in Israel is deceptive: Once those soldiers finish their service, they are subject to civilian gun control regulations that are much stricter than American laws.
Ben wrote, "Unlike in the United States, where the right to bear arms is guaranteed in the Constitution’s Second Amendment, Israel’s department of public security considers gun ownership a privilege, not a right. With few exceptions, gun owners in Israel are limited to owning one pistol, and must undergo extensive mental and physical tests before they can receive a weapon. Those who have not served in the military or in a government volunteer agency must wait until age 27 to apply for a firearms license. Gun owners are limited to 50 rounds of ammunition per year."
He also noted that residents of Judea and Samaria "can obtain permits to carry guns for security purposes."
Requests for gun licenses in Israel do surge during times of heightened violence, and in 2015 Israel those restrictions to allow reserve officers and more residents to carry guns because of the prevalence of knife attacks. In fact, civilians were encouraged to carry their guns with them in order to be able to neutralize possible knife-wielding terrorists.
Israel is no stranger to mass violence, from suicide bombings to car rammings, and counts on citizens bearing guns to be part of the response to terror..
But Huckabee is almost right: Israelis kill each other with firearms at a small fraction of the rate of Americans, and licensed commercial security firms or highly trained civilians guard schools and field trips.