Recognizing a greater need for citizens to be able to defend themselves, Israel recently eased laws on the carrying of firearms in public and Russia has also loosened restrictions on the ownership and use of guns. In Israel, the changes come in response to recent attacks, by armed Palestinians, on Israeli citizens; In Russia, where more than 50 percent admit to not feeling safe walking alone at night, the measure is aimed more at deterring more conventional crime.
A recent escalation of attacks against civilians inside Israel has prompted a temporary easing of restrictions on carrying a gun in public. Mainly, it is the changing nature of terrorism against Israeli civilians that has likely prompted this. In the past, Israelis have had to contend with the types of attacks, against which, one cannot defend by simply carrying a firearm: Missiles being fired across the border, usually landing in the desert and, whilst causing a certain amount of property damage, not causing mass casualties; bombs planted in cafes or on buses; suicide bombers detonating in crowded areas. More recently, however, attacks have targeted individuals or smaller groups and are being carried out using hand-held weapons, rather than bombs. In these situations, civilians have the chance of defending themselves if they are armed.
Following Tuesday’s attack on the Kehilat Bnei Torah synagogue in Jerusalem, in which two Palestinians killed four rabbis and fatally wounded a police officer before being killed by police, the minister for public security announced the policy change. “In the coming hours,” said Yitzhak Aharonovich, “I will ease restrictions on carrying weapons.”
Although many Israelis own firearms, it is uncommon to see guns being carried in public, expect by law enforcement and private security officers. Aharonovich did not immediately give details of how the rules would be changed but suggested that gun carry regulations would be relaxed for off-duty military personnel and security guards. It is not easy for private citizens to own guns in Israel unless they can show good reason for needing them.
In Russia, gun ownership has previously been very tightly controlled; guns are allowed for target shooting and hunting only and must be registered. A large percentage of the more than 12 million firearms in Russia are illegally owned. The new policy, just announced, will allow Russians to carry guns for self-defense. Although the change in the law comes with numerous restrictions on where firearms may not be carried, it now states that Russians may now carry firearms to “protect their lives, health and property.” According to Russia Today, applicants for a license to carry a gun will be required to participate in gun safety training and undergo tough background checks.
Not everyone in Russia is happy about the rule change. Some journalists and politicians have expressed concern. According to a report in Business Insider, Additionally, Russian politician and former deputy of the State Dumas, Russia’s Human Rights Commissioner, Ella Pamfilova said “I believe that it is fraught with many dangerous and tragic consequences. I don’t doubt that it will increase the number of accidents.”
Graham J Noble