Israel to Ease Gun Restrictions Imposed to Reduce Domestic Shootings

Minister Gilad Erdan reversing guidelines that were introducted in 2013 to tackle number of domestic shootings being committed by security guards.

An illustrative image of a security guard in Ganei Tikva.
Daniel Bar-On

The government is set to annul the regulation that prevents security guards from taking their guns home at the end of a shift, a move that has been denounced by women’s groups.

The Public Security Ministry is looking to reverse the reforms it introduced some two years ago, which declared that security guards had to leave their weapons at their place of work and not bring them home. That guideline was implemented following a series of shooting deaths of women by their partners, who worked as security guards.

The earlier decision required security firms to install safes at protected sites, where the weapons were stored at a cost of millions of shekels. The rationale was to limit the number of weapons unnecessarily in public hands. The ministry estimates that security guards handle some 38,000 firearms.

For years, there was no enforcement of a regulation that called for the collection of guards’ guns at the end of a shift. However, a coalition of women’s groups and human rights groups, called Gun-Free Kitchen Tables, documented the number of women who were shot to death by partners who were security guards. This raised public awareness regarding the problem caused by nonenforcement of the regulation and led the ministry to reform its guidelines, which were published in September 2013.

However, in November 2014, and in light of the deteriorating security situation in Israel, security officers and managers were instructed to exclude security guards from limitations on carrying arms, using temporary injunctions. These injunctions have been extended repeatedly since, but are due to expire at the end of this month.

Following the arrival of new Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan last May, it was decided to change the instructions completely. Erdan insisted that guards take their weapons home with them, and earlier prohibitions on this are being altered. Two weeks ago, the ministry announced a proposed change in the law, according to which appropriate authorities will be able to determine when changes take effect “in order to protect the public,” as well as determining the duration that these changes are to remain in force.

The public security minister believes that the presence of more guns on the street will increase the public’s sense of security.

The ministry intends to extend the current injunction by several months, while making amendments to the law that will eventually cancel out the need for these temporary injunctions.

The head of the national organization of security companies says the regulations are changing due to the deterioration in the security situation. However, he opposes easing conditions for the arming of citizens, saying he is “against civil militias in a democratic state. Trained security personnel should provide solutions, not citizens.”

The Gun-Free Kitchen Tables group says a “destructive” atmosphere has developed in recent months with regard to the use of guns in public spaces, and says it plans to oppose the ministry’s proposed amendment to the law.