Firearms license in Israel – how and why is one issued
A firearms license in Israel is far more difficult to obtain than (for example) a weapon permit in the United States. Visitors from abroad may find that strange, considering the number of IDF soldiers and security personnel who openly carry weapons on the streets of Israel. However, the procedure for issuing a private weapons permit to carry weapons for an Israeli who is not part of the defense establishment or the police, is fairly restrictive. Getting a private firearms license – when a weapon is not considered necessary at your place of employment – is even more complicated, since the requirements are more stringent. Israel doesn’t have a second amendment, such as in the US constitution. A firearms license is a privilege, not a right. Moreover, the government’s policy in recent years has been to reduce the number of private firearms held by Israeli citizens, due to use of these weapons in violent acts.
This article by attorney Michael Decker, a Jerusalem lawyer who specializes in administrative law, will explain who can and who cannot obtain a firearms license in Israel. It will detail the threshold requirements and possible reasons for applying for a gun permit, and also explain what can be done in order to appeal a decision to refuse a request to obtain a permit to carry a gun in Israel.
How to apply for a firearms license in Israel?
The law regulating the issue of obtaining a private firearms license is the Israeli Firearms Law, 1949. However, most of the requirements for obtaining firearms are contained in the procedures of the firearms licensing division, a section of the Ministry of the Interior (Misrad Hapnim). There are a number of threshold requirements and criteria for issuing a weapons license.
Threshold requirements measure the applicants eligibility to obtain a weapons permit. Every requirement must be met to receive the permit. The listed criteria are the valid and recognized reasons for applying for a firearms license in Israel. Any applicant for the license is required to meet at least one of the criteria. An applicant who does not comply with the requirement or fails to meet the criteria will not receive the license. Even someone who served in a combat position in the IDF or had previously held a valid gun permit may fail. However, someone who underwent combat (7 month) IDF training will have an advantage when applying.
You can apply for a weapons license at the Ministry of Interior website. Before submitting the application you may check your eligibility via the eligibility calculation form. However, being found eligible via the automated calculator does not guarantee receipt of the weapon license.
What are the threshold requirements for obtaining a weapons license in Israel?
The applicant for a firearms license must be a citizen or permanent resident of Israel, who has lived in Israel for the past three years or had completed his national / military service. A person who has served in IDF can receive a firearms license in Israel as of the age of 18. Anyone who has served in the National Service may receive a license starting at the age of 21. Someone who has never served can only receive weapon license after reaching the age of 27. The applicant must be fluent enough in Hebrew to understand instructions and pass an interview.
Anyone requesting a permit to carry a weapon must attach a health declaration from a physician to the application. Finally, the applicant must undergo the required weapons training. The applicant undertakes to notify of any future change in the threshold conditions (for example, the state of their health) without delay.
What are the criteria for obtaining a weapons permit in Israel?
In other words, what are the accepted reasons for carrying a gun in Israel? The desire to a obtain a weapon for self-defense is not considered sufficient reason for obtaining a private firearms permit. In order to obtain the license, one must meet one of several criteria specified in the procedures. The criteria include those who live or work beyond the Green Line (the West Bank area or one of the few “communities entitled to weapons” within the Green Line), serve in the security forces (or the police, the Shin Bet, airport security, etc.) or who needs to carry a weapon in their line of work (a security guard, a tour guide, a certified farmer, an explosives carrier, a shooting instructor).
Most private weapons holders are entitled to carry a pistol and 50 bullets. Hunters, rodent exterminators, athletes in the field of shooting and veterinarians working in the field are entitled to receive a type of rifle appropriate to their profession, subject to the recommendation of the relevant authority.
Who is not entitled to receive a weapons license?
But even having passed the listed requirements and criteria, each applicant’s specific circumstances are examined, in order to ensure that they will not pose a danger to public safety if they receive a weapon permit. For example, any recorded history of criminal convictions, drug consumption, and violent incidents may result in rejection of the application. So can certain types of mental illness, especially involving hallucinations or suicidal tendencies.
The deciding clerk may take into account the circumstances of a past criminal case, even if the applicant was never convicted. References may be made to a case that was never brought to court or closed for lack of evidence. Some applicants are refused on the basis of an offense committed during their military service. Rules governing firearms licenses in Israel are those of administrative law, which are less stringent than the rules of criminal law – since, as stated, the applicant is not denied a vested right, but rather is not granted a privilege.
What can a person do if they are denied a firearms license?
An appeal can be filed within 45 days. The appeal should detail all the valid reasons to contest the rejection decision. However, it is important to emphasize that the court generally does not annul the decision of the administrative authority. An appeal will succeed only if a person can prove that the decision was made on the basis of false information or that the decision to reject the application for a firearms license is extremely unreasonable given the circumstances.
Contact us – Cohen, Decker, Pex, Brosh law office
If you wish to obtain information or legal aid in obtaining a firearms license in Israel, the Israeli law office of Cohen, Decker, Pex, Brosh will be happy to help. Make an appointment at our attorney office in Jerusalem or Petah Tikva to receive legal assistance from an expert.
: 03-3724722, 055-9781688