In November 2017 Israel’s government tabled a bill proposing a new, exhaustive Gun Law, which stands to shape small arms policy, as well as the reality of firearms proliferation and control, in Israel and the territories under its control, for decades to come.
In a careful reading of the bill, the researcher-activists of GFKT identified several highly dangerous and central clauses, including one which proposes impunity for both the state and armed organizations, in cases of small arms abuse by a person deployed by these parties.
The proposed law completely sidelines recommendations submitted by GFKT as early as 2013 and 2014 to an original author of the bill, Prof. Shlomo Shapira. It also ignored GFKT’s 2017 letter to the officials drafting the law, emphasizing new, highly relevant research on the correlation between gun laws and levels of gun violence and urging them to take these findings into account.
The 18 women who took part, at short notice, in an emergency meeting convened by GFKT on publication of the bill, were representatives of 10 organizations as well as independent activists. The intense discussion laid out an action plan for promoting responsible small arms legislation, stressing preventive measures to reduce gun violence and addressing the human security needs of diverse genders and communities.
Coordinated by GFKT staff, three multi-organizational work teams formed at the meeting implemented the strategy decisions we had reached.
Practical steps taken to promote responsible small arms legislation:
Demands for amendments to the bill, formally submitted:
In December 2017, a month after the bill was tabled, the organizations of the GFKT Coalition submitted a formal list of “Comments on the Bill” through the officially required channel. The document stressed that Gun Law must provide “protection from small arms, rather than seeing guns as purely defensive.” To that purpose, “The law must hold the victims of gun violence ang gun crime in full view, assigning them center stage.” Our basic demand, the document explained, is the restriction of gun bearing – including that of security organizations and private security firms – to the time and place in which their bearer is on duty. In addition, we recommended:
- Measures towards significant reduction of small arms proliferation in the civil sphere.
- Express reference to domestic violence in the law and obligatory consults with welfare authorities.
- Mandatory data collection on gun crime and on victimized communities, enabling the identification of phenomena, trends and the formulation of pertinent policies.
- Weighing an expert Gender Analysis on the gendered implications of key clauses of the bill.
- Mandatory third-party insurance for gun owners and gun bearers deployed by armed organizations.
- Removal of the proposed immunity clause.
An Addendum to the Comments on the Bill:
Submitted at the request of Ministry of Justice officials, following meetings initiated by GFKT to discuss the bill, the Addendum includes models of preventive licensing and gun control tools, enacted in other countries.
Raising public consciousness to the dangerous bill and to preventive alternatives:
A promo ad ushering in a series of facebook ads, aired on the GFKT facebook page for the last day of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign. The promo, alerting viewers to forthcoming information on a dangerous turn in small arms legislation, was supported by IANSA.
A series of seven ads on GFKT’s facebook page, aired in early 2018, explained aspects of the new and dangerous bill and detailed minimal demands from responsible, preventive fiream legislation.
Demand #1: Collecting and disaggregating data on gun violence victimization.
The ad series reached 8,200 facebook users via 27,000 instances of exposure to the ads. It garnered about 2,000 responses.
(Ad campaign management: Shir Bert; Ad design: Noa Mazali)
Advocacy in parliament and government:
The Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality faced the Minister of Public Security with a report on the prevention of domestic violence. Our messaging on the gendered risk inherent in the newly proposed gun law was among the testimonies presented at the meeting.
An expert Gender Analysis of the bill
An expert Gender Analysis of the bill was commissioned from GFKT Co-Founder, Atty. Smadar Ben Natan, who co-authored the document with Atty. Meisa Irshaid, GFKT’s Legal Advisor and with GFKT Co-Founder and Coordinator, Rela Mazali. The analysis was initially framed and guided by a unique two-year study group facilitated by GFKT, which identified key points for scrutiny by the analysis and held discussions on a subsequent draft. The analysis will be formally publicized when Knesset discussions of the proposed Firearms Law are resumed.
Demands for preventive legislation and measures adopted by a nation-wide wave of feminist protest
An ad-hoc network of dozens of women’s groups coordinated actions and demands to end violence against women near the end of 2018 with protests attended by tens of thousands. GFKT policy recommendations and demands for preventive legislation were adopted by the network and featured on a list of practical demands presented to Israel’s Prime Minister.
Demands for preventive legislation and measures adopted by a nation-wide wave of Palestinian protest
At the close of 2019, GFKT demands for preventive legislation and the findings of its Gender Analysis are feeding directly into an unprecedented, popular protest against gun violence in Palestinian society in Israel. A list of concrete steps vital for stemming this violence, based on GFKT research and documents, is circulating widely among individuals and organizations, towards providing the powerful but diffuse protest network with solid, achievable goals and distinct addressees. We plan to gather a large segment of civil society behind the list, presenting it to government and to the broader public as a representative set of strong demands.