Israel Has Fewer Guns, Fewer Deaths Than U.S.

Strict Laws May Reduce Risks, Contrary to Gun Lobby Claims

By Nathan Guttman

Published February 11, 2013, issue of February 15, 2013.
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“Countries like Israel refute the claim that more guns lead to more violence,” said John Lott Jr., author of “More Guns, Less Crime,” published most recently in 2010. But Arye Rattner, director of the Center for the Study of Crime, Law and Society at the University of Haifa, argues that low crime rates have to do with the fact that firearms don’t end up in the wrong hands. “When control over guns is better, the number of violent crimes involving guns decreases,” he said.

The debate also has a flip side: How do gun control laws in Israel affect the country’s security?

Lior Nedivi, a former Israeli police officer now in the process of setting up an Israeli pro-gun lobby, argued that the answer is clear. “It is a matter of fact,” he said, “that armed civilians in Israel have in many cases prevented crime and even stopped terror attacks.” Nedivi advocates easing gun ownership laws in Israel to allow more people access to firearms. Lott added that civilians carrying guns can be the only solution for blocking suicide attackers, before law enforcement forces arrive on the scene.

But Israeli authorities are leaning in the direction of further limitations rather than relaxing regulations. Following an increase in homicides carried out by civilian security guards using their handguns, Israel’s state comptroller announced shortly after the Connecticut shooting that he would conduct an investigation into the use of guns by private security companies and would examine the existing requirements in order to see if they are sufficient.

Contact Nathan Guttman at or on Twitter @nathanguttman

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