Israel Crime Wave Sparks Sharp Rise in Requests for Gun Permits

Interior Ministry says demand spiked from 50 to 250 permit requests within two months.

Requests for firearm permits have seen a 50 percent hike over the past months, the Interior Ministry said this week.

"We have been seeing a drastic increase in the number of requests for firearm permits," Yaakov Amit, director of the ministry's firearm permit department, said in an interview with Haaretz. "More and more requests are coming in every day."

According to Amit, the ministry has received 1,000 requests for firearm permits this year, compared to 500 in previous years. Beyond first-time requests for a firearm license, there is also a significant increase in the number of appeals lodged by citizens whose requests have been turned down.

"Two months ago we had an average of 50 appeals, but today that figure is about 250," Amit said. The Interior Ministry handles some 200,000 valid permits for firearms for civilians, and another 140,00 permits for security firms.

Civilians' requests are granted according to a few criteria such as occupation and place of residence. Citizens living in towns and cities in the West Bank are considered as living in high-risk areas and their requests more often end in a license, as do requests by civilians living near the Green Line.

By contrast, more requests are rejected in northern Israel because more permit seekers from that part of the country do not meet the criteria. "I suppose the hike in demand is a reaction to what's happening in terms of personal security," Amit said. "More violence makes people want to take precautions, including firearms."

This, he says, is especially evident in the tone used in appeals, which often cite parents' "right to defend" their children and themselves. Amit also attributed the rise in applications to the case of Shai Dromi, a Negev rancher who shot an intruder but was cleared of manslaughter last month.