Yoram Issachar, who owns a contracting company in Jerusalem with his father and two brothers, has carried a Baretta 765 for the past 25 years. He works in Jewish communities on land Israel acquired in the West Bank, employing 15-30 Palestinian laborers, and carries the gun for his protection. Now, after the attack in Jerusalem that killed four worshippers and a police officer, he plans to upgrade to a larger gun. Immediately after that attack, he said, he took out his gun and cleaned it to make sure it was ready for use.
“I want to buy a Glock because each bullet is larger, and it shoots faster,” he said. “It will give me more security if I need it.”
He’s only used the gun once. In 1992, several young Palestinians threw stones at his car as he drove through the Palestinian town of El-Bireh, damaging his car although he was not hurt. Angry, he jumped out of the car and pursued them, opening fire at their legs, although he did not hit them.
In the wake of a series of attacks that have left 11 Israelis dead over the past weeks, Israelis are lining up to get a gun licence. Those who already have licences are carrying their guns with them more often. The Israeli government has asked everyone who has a gun to carry them in public, to help reinforce Israel’s security situation, and some who would leave their guns at work, such as security guards, are urged to bring them home.
“People are nervous after recent events, and anyone who has a gun should carry it around rather than leave it at home,” Yakov Amit, the director of the gun licensing department for the Ministry of Public Security, told the Media Line. “We want as many people as possible to be able to respond to an attack.”
Amit said there are about 300,000 guns held legally in Israel – half of them by individuals such as Issachar who carry them for self-protection, and the other half by security guards at public institutions. Israelis must demonstrate a need for the gun, and pass a psychological test as well as a shooting test before they receive a licence. The licence must be renewed every three years.
In the past decade, there have been a series of incidents in which people have been killed by guns at home, either in accidents or intentionally. At least 16 women have been killed by their partners using licensed guns, since 2002, according to women’s groups. Yet, Israelis who carry guns say they make them feel safer.
“When I moved to Israel in 1976 from Memphis, Tenn., I brought two hand guns with me,” said Alon Kirschner, a physiologist. “In Tennessee, if you don’t have a gun by the time you’re 8, you’re considered a sissy.”
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