The recent series of terror attacks necessitates a number of security preparations. But the one that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett exhorted – getting as many guns as possible onto the streets – cannot be among them. In a recorded statement that he distributed Wednesday, Bennett said: “Whoever has a license to carry a weapon, this is the time to carry it.” This is bad counsel.
Streets abounding with guns and ammunition are liable to become a booby trap, and the potential benefit in the form of passersby thwarting a terror attack could lead to great accidental or even deliberate bloodshed, no less dangerous.
The security of Israelis must be left in the hands of those who are responsible for it and have the needed skills: the Israel Police, the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service. While there have been instances in which the intervention of a gun-carrying civilian saved lives – as was the case with Artur Haimov, a bus driver who acted with courage, responsibility and professionalism when he shot the assailant in Be’er Sheva last week – but the outcome could have been different.
- Israel Preparing for a Months-long Escalation After Fatal Terror Attacks
- Israel Was Scarred by '90s Terror Wave. In 2022, Things Can Be Different
- The Enemy Has Changed. Calls for Israeli Operation in West Bank Are Irrelevant
Studies carried out around the world have shown that an increase in the number of civilians carrying guns results in a rise in the theft of firearms and their use against innocent people. Just as with the war on terror, there must be a balance between security needs on one hand, and the loss of all control and restraint on the other hand. It’s enough to look at the United States, where in some states nearly anyone can purchase a gun legally, to see the lethal consequences resulting from the frequent mass shootings there.
In his statement, the prime minister announced that from now on, service members from Rifleman level 03 and up will take their army-issued gun with them when they leave the base. This too is a problematic decision. Not all soldiers are skilled in using guns. The need to step up the protection of residents at a time when every place is a potential terror front is understandable and justified. But when passions are running so high and ultranationalist incitement is at a peak, when extremists call for Arabs to be killed, it isn’t difficult to imagine what too many guns in the hands of those chanting “death to Arabs” will cause.
No argument for the need for protection could stand in the way of acts of mass slaughter by individuals taking the law into their own hands, once the prime minister called on them to carry their guns in public.