Faced with a wave of knife violence, a soaring number of Israelis are applying for gun permits. The Times of London reports:
Gun permit applications are soaring as Israelis arm themselves amid the Palestinian unrest that has claimed 21 lives this month and injured some 1,300 people.
The public security ministry said yesterday that requests for a weapon licence had jumped by “a double-digit percentage” and police have had to deploy extra staff to cope with the demand.
Israel has strict rules on gun ownership, with background checks and a mental health examination required before a permit is issued. The restrictions are looser for residents of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and other areas deemed to be at high risk of unrest.
Gilad Erdan, the public security minister, said that he wanted to relax the rules further. “Clearly we cannot assign a police officer to protect every citizen,” he said. “So self-defence is vital.”
About 150,000 Israelis have permits, down by half since the 1990s, according to police.
According to the Washington Post, Israelis who already have guns are also rushing to shooting ranges. Many Israelis with weapons permits are ex-soldiers or reservists.
As Avi Issacharoff recently pointed out in an op-ed in the Times of Israel, it seems there’s frustratingly little to nothing the government can do in Jerusalem to make this better, because the attackers are too diffuse and too apolitical (in that they don’t particularly care about the status of relations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, and are often not part of a specific movement—they’re mainly young and stoked by social media). So when attackers become decentralized like this, perhaps, many Israelis seem to be thinking, so too must the defense?