In Wake of Tel Aviv Shooting, Likud Lawmaker Calls for More Guns in Hands of Civilians

Addressing the possibility that more guns in the public sphere would result in more gun violence, Freshman MK Amir Ohana says: 'When you cut down trees, chips will fly.'

A man taking part in security guard training at gun range in Kfar Sava.
Tomer Appelbaum

A Likud lawmaker has announced that he intends to work toward significantly expanding the number of gun carriers in Israel in the wake of Friday's deadly shooting in Tel Aviv

Freshman MK Amir Ohana said in a Facebook post that the legislation he envisioned would allow any citizen without a criminal record or a relevant medical condition, and who serves in the Israeli military reserves, to carry a gun.

Addressing the possibility that more guns in the public sphere would lead to increased gun violence, he quoted a Russian proverb attributed to Joseph Stalin: “When you cut down trees, chips will fly.” Ohana said there was “no basis to assume that more lives would be lost from gun accidents than lives saved in a terror-stricken country like ours.” 

He further said he believed the proper response to terror by individuals, alongside the fight against incitement, is “giving citizens a proper chance to defend themselves and not be slaughtered like sheep.”

Two people were killed and seven were wounded in the shooting at a bar in central Tel Aviv on Friday afternoon. A manhunt for the suspect, Mashat Melhem, a 29-year-old Israeli Arab, was still underway on Saturday evening. 

While the suspect in the shooting allegedly stole a gun held legally by his father, politicians spoke out over the weekend about weapons held illegally in the Arab community. Yesh Atid chairman, MK Yair Lapid, called for a speedy collection of illegal weapons from Arab Israelis. ”The incident is the result of the fact that weapons can be bought from all kinds of places, like sunflower seeds in the grocery store,” Lapid said. 

MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) said that during her term as justice minister she had held meetings with Arab mayors who raised the issue themselves and asked the police to collect the weapons and enforce the law. In the previous Knesset, Arab lawmakers, chief among them MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint List), worked to enforce the law against the firing of illegal weapons at Arab weddings.