Behind the Lines: Israeli Libertarian

Friday, July 31, 2009

Daniel Danon Hates Guns and Freedom

As of now, MK Daniel Danon is sponsoring a bill to ban everybody aged under 21 from owning guns and everybody under 16 from entering public ranges. On his site, he writes: "Today, even 4-year-olds can enter public ranges for "fun days" or other activities. This bill will stop this."

This is of course scaremongering of the most blatant kind - obviously it is meant to conjure up an image of four-year-olds running around with guns. This is of course not goes on at public ranges in ISrael or anywhere. It is true that young children can shoot at ranges since an early age in Israel - but, like in other countries, they do so under the safe supervision of adults.

I have written MK Danon a letter [reproduced below]. Those of you wishing to write him a letter can do so at

Dear MK Danon!

I have recently become informed that you have sponsored a bill that limits the age at which a person can receive a firearms license (under your proposal, a young citizen can not receive a firearms license until they are 21 years old, and no person younger than 16 years old can attend a public range and shoot there for training). As a Likud voter and a citizen of Israel, I am extremely concerned about this bill, for several reasons:

1.The bill discriminates against women. While it is true that men in Israel complete mandatory service by 21, a woman will have completed her service by the age of 20, and yet entirely unable to carry a weapon in self-defense for one more year. Considering hundreds of women in Israel are assaulted – sexually or otherwise – every year, this is a serious concern.

2.Citizens in Israel can obtain a license for a car – typically a far more dangerous contraption than a firearm – at the age of 18 and even earlier. A car can be the cause of a lethal accident even if the driver does everything right, whereas lethal accidents with firearms are nearly impossible unless safety rules are broken. Yet for some reason you wish to deny mature citizens of Israel, people who are old enough to serve the country in war and vote for your party, the means of self-defense. Do you genuinely believe that an Orthodox-Jewish woman or an Arab-ISraeli man aged 18 should not be able to defend themselves or to participate in the shooting sports?

3.Finally, and most prominently, I am concerned that your bill seeks to deny access to public ranges to young boys and girls aged below the age of 16. Nobody, of course , favors four-year-olds running around with lethal weapons, unsupervised – but this is not what this is about. At shooting ranges in Israel, all shooters are observed at all times by instructors, and young children come to shoot with their parents. Anybody who can observe the basic rules of gun safety (which consists of treating all guns as if they were loaded, keeping one's finger off the trigger unless one intends to fire the gun, and not shooting anything one doesn't intend to destroy, as well as being aware of the nature of one's target) can safely shoot at a range. These rules are simple and even a ten-year-old can easily master them.

Nor is the notion of young children participating in the shooting sports so unacceptable. Many experts believe that introducting young children to the shooting sports early not only imparts useful skills that could then be applied in the young man's future military service, sports career, or individual sefl-defense, but also improves various mental and physical faculties – individual responsibility one one hand and hand-eye coordination on the other. Obviously, like all other sports, shooting sports are healthy and good for our children – in the United States and Europe, there are even youth teams that compete in these sports, at early school ages. As for hunting, abroad that often invovles participants as young as nine years old (obviously, operating with adult supervision), using shotguns or rifles.

Given these facts, it makes little sense to further restrict and discourage people who seek to legally own firearms in Israel, especially given the dysmal shape of our Olympic shooting teams and the security situation in this country. As a member of the Likud Party, the notion of further reducing the ability of Israel's citizens to defend their homes and country from terrorism and crime should be especially disturbing to you.

I would like to conclude my letter by pointing out that while I have voted for your party in the last election, your actions on this bill will impact my decision regarding whether I vote for it in the next election.

Sincerely yours,
Boris Karpa,
Teudat-Zehut [number omitted]

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dromi is Acquitted!,7340,L-3746822,00.html

The Beersheba District Court on Wednesday decided by a majority vote to acquit southern farmer Shai Dromi of manslaughter beyond a reasonable doubt. However, the court did convict him of weapon offenses.

Here are my thoughts [which have also been reposted on the Daily Capitalist site]

1.This is very remininscent of the Boernie Goetz case in America, where a man was convicted of firearms charges because the prosecutor could not get him on the manslaughter charge due to self-defense claims. Let me remind Western Readers - Israeli courts are not required to convict people even if they're guilty under the facts. One doubts why they did it in this case.

2.The judge in Israel is not bound to convict every criminal who is technically guilty. The judges here decided to convict Shai Dromi on a 'firearms charge' in relation to a .22LR rifle. These are not designed as weapons (though of course, as the case proved, one can technically kill with them). These are designed as sporting weapons, and in Europe they're often sold without licenses (note I am deliberately avoiding discussion of the US policy). I think it was petty to convict for possession under the circum

3.I realize that adoption of US-like firearms laws is currently not a possibility in Israel, but I think this is proof should relax them, if even slightly. Under the current laws, most citizens of Israel cannot own weapons at all:

Perhaps it would be best to except some types of weapons from the licensing requirements, or at least make it easy to purchase one. Specifically, rifles and shotguns are classic home defense weapons and they cannot really be comfortably carried or used by criminals (in the US, the gun-ownership utopia/dystopia, rifle murders constitute about 3% of total murders, even though dozens of millions of people have them). Such a limited reform would allow men like Dromi to defend themselves.

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