This week, Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch announced a decision to relax the rules governing the carrying of firearms and the issuance of licenses to carry. The move came shortly after the reprehensible slaughter of four Orthodox Jewish men and a police officer in a West Jerusalem Temple by terrorists armed with knives, axes and a gun. The assailants in the attack had been shot and killed at the scene by police. Aharonovitch was quoted in an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz as stating, “The decision to ease [approving gun permits] is a result of the present need to strengthen the feeling of security for the population, in light of the recent terrorist incidents befalling us.”
As the Haaretz article explains, the decision temporarily allows licensed security personnel to take firearms home with them. Further, the criteria for granting firearm licenses has been changed, allowing for people in sufficiently dangerous communities to acquire firearms licenses. Requirements for ex-military personnel and current military reservists have also been eased.
In late 2012, following the tragic murders in Newtown, Conn., NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre uttered the now famous words, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” The common sense statement received harsh criticism at the time in some corners of the media. Nonetheless, the Israeli Minister of Public Security, undeniably tasked with some of the most challenging internal security conditions on Earth, echoed that sentiment by relaxing Israel’s normally strict firearms rules in the face of this latest atrocity. While a departure from the typical reaction of Western officials confronted with the ugly reality of wanton violence, denial and wishful thinking are not viable options for a nation whose very existence neighboring powers have sworn to destroy.
Notably, Aharonovitch isn’t the only high-ranking security official to endorse this view after a tragedy. In 2013, following an attack in a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Interpol Secretary Robert K. Noble suggested that an armed citizenry could be used to counter terrorist violence. Noble told ABC, “Societies have to think about how they’re going to approach the problem…. One is to say we want an armed citizenry; you can see the reason for that.” Noble added, “You have to ask yourself, ‘Is an armed citizenry more necessary now than it was in the past with an evolving threat of terrorism?’ This is something that has to be discussed.”
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