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Gun Licensing in Israel

Licenses to bear arms

The Firearm Licensing Department of the Ministry of Public Security reviews and approves licenses of three main types:

Private License, issued to an individual authorizing the purchase of a gun, its ownership and use.

“Organization License,” issued to a person responsible for other arms bearers and their firearms in a licensed organization (such as, a senior employee of a private security firm, a security officer of a community in designated areas, or a security officer of an industrial plant).

“Security Guard License,” issued to a subordinate of an “Organization License” holder, to bear arms as part of their job description or due to the location of their residence.

Which bodies govern small arms in Israel?

A. The Firearm Licensing Department of the Ministry of Public Security – is responsible for civilian firearms including private (privately owned) arms and organizational arms (owned by private security firms, communities, industrial plants and commercial companies).

B. Israel Police – is responsible for the firearms of police and of Border Police.

C. Israel Defense Force (IDF) – is responsible for the arms carried by conscripted soldiers, reserve soldiers and career soldiers and officers; it is also responsible for the arms provided to “readiness squads” in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and in Jewish communities designated as “worthy” (that is of armament for self-defense) within the “Green Line” (internationally recognized as Israel’s borders).

D. Israel Prison Service

E. Parliamentary Guard

Gun Laws

The licensing, ownership, bearing and control of small arms in Israel are regulated by a series of laws. The principal ones are:

This law regulates the ownership and use of firearms in Israel. It is governed by the principle that ownership and use of a gun are not rights but are, rather, privileges granted by the regulator subject to restrictive criteria and required training. Responsibility for its enforcement lies on the Ministry of Public Security. The law determines the personal information required for reviewing an application for a firearm license, including police documents, documentation from the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Health. It also requires any medical doctor, psychologies, public health officer or welfare worker who believe that this person may pose a risk to themselves or their surroundings, if granted a gun license – to inform a designated Health Ministry official who may then, if he so decides, report the information to the Ministry of Public Security and the IDF as well as other armed organizations. In addition, the law regulates the licensing, maintenance and bearing of organizational arms by private security firms and commercial companies, as well as public organizations such as the Israel Police, Prison Services, Knesset Guard Service.

The law (in Hebrew)

The bill was designed to replace the 1949 Firearms Law entirely.

The bill (in Hebrew), including an appendix on the viability of “Personal Risk Assessments” for applicants for gun licenses.

GFKT submitted exhaustive critical comments on the proposed Firearms Bill in December 2017 and May 2018 and completed a Gender Analysis of the bill in January 2019, to be submitted when the Knesset resumes discussions of the bill.

The law regulates private investigation and security services in Israel including licensing private security firms and oversight of their operations. Responsibility for its enforcement lies on the Ministry of Justice. The law does not distinguish between armed and unarmed security services and includes no reference to the bearing of firearms. A legislative process ongoing over recent years aims to separate the regulation of security services from the regulation of private investigators by legislating a Private Security Service Law.

GFKT partner organization, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel submitted exhaustive, critical comments on the proposed Private Security Service Bill (in 2014 and in 2012). The GFKT Coalition submitted critical comments on the bill in 2012.

The law regulates the authority of police, soldiers and private security guards to act for purposes of public security, to be distinguished from the criteria for authorizing individuals’ employment by a security firm and not including a license to bear arms. It determines extended authorization to monitor and detain persons bearing arms illegally or considered to pose a risk of using arms illegally. The law authorizes the Minister of Public Security to designate sites barring entry for persons bearing firearms.

The law determines guarding and security arrangements for public bodies. A security guard in a public body is required to hold a license under the 1972 Private Investigators and Security Services Law and, in addition, to be a licensed gun holder with either a private or a Security Guard License.

The law determines conditions for the licensing of businesses and allows the Minister of Labor to set regulations concerning the safety of clients and employees, including requirements for deploying security guards on site.

The law sets out procedures for protection from the violent conduct of intimates, including issuing restraining orders against the intimate person posing the risk. It determines that issuing a restraining order will entail “the prohibition of the person against whom the order was issued to hold or bear a firearm and his gun will be confiscated immediately. However, the court is authorized to allow him to continue holding arms if this poses no risk … including in the event that he is employed as a security guard and confiscation of his firearms will impair his livelihood.”

The law determines measures for protection against stalking when the stalker is not necessarily an intimate and when stalking does not necessarily include violence or threatened violence. These include, for instance, a stalking prevention order restricting the stalker at the request of their victim. On issuing such an order, the judge may (but is not obliged) to order the confiscation of the stalker’s firearm.

The law sets out principles for ensuring women’s equality and determines that women have a right to protection from violence. The law stipulates that proposed legislation with implications for gender equality will be subject to the submission of a Gender Analysis regarding these implications. In addition, it mandates the collection of gender-sensitive data by public bodies that collect and publish data and statistics.

The regulations implement the general guidelines laid out by the Firearms Law into detailed procedures and directives.

In the course of 2018, GFKT repeatedly challenged the loose regulations introduced by the Knesset Committee of Interior Affairs.

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