A few words about horror, guns, and Israel
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A few words about horror, guns, and Israel

Filmmaker Avishai Weinberger is my cousin. (Specifically, my cousin’s son; more specifically, my third, fifth, and seventh-cousin’s son — there weren’t a lot of Jews to marry in West Point, Georgia, back in the 19th century).

He is at the beginning stage of his career and focusing on the genre of horror films. He’s won awards for his screenplays in that genre, and you can find his 18-minute short horror film “Third Date” on YouTube, where it has amassed more than a million views.

Like many people, though, he prefers his horror to remain fictional, not to be scrawled out in the blood of real machine-gunned fourth graders in real Texas classrooms.

In the wake of last week’s massacre, he tweeted out an unattributed commentary on Israeli gun laws. Obviously, to quote the famous meme that cites Abraham Lincoln, “You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet.”

He also included a link to the relevant Israeli gun regulations, which indeed expresses the following, though in rather more bureaucratic language.

Here’s the content of his tweet:

Every time there is a horrific mass shooting in the US, there is an immediate chorus from people attempting to justify guns, using Israel as their proof text. Israel, however, is not handing out guns as if they were candies.

To get a gun in Israel:

• You have to be a citizen (or permanent resident) of at least 3 years.

• You usually have to have done army service (or national service.) There are sometimes exceptions for 27+ year old citizens (or 45+ year old permanent residents).

(The army prerequisite means they’ve already eliminated most of the people to whom it would be dangerous to share weapons for mental health reasons.)

• You need to have served as an officer or in a special unit of the army, or have current or past experience in the Israeli police department or security forces.

• You need a health form signed by a licensed medical physician.

• You need to pass special training to use the specific gun (that means it can’t be an impulse buy) including a theory exam, and practical shooting requirements

• You can’t buy a machine gun at all: only certain guns (usually a pistol)

• You can’t purchase more than 50 bullets, and only one gun

• You have to carry your gun permit when you carry your gun

• You need a basic level of Hebrew (and they check this)

• You must reside in a specified area, and practice a specified occupation (eg, tour guides and farmers).

• Once you have applied for a license, your request is forwarded to the Israel police and the Ministry of Health.

After their authorizations are received, you will be contacted by the Firearm Licensing Information and Service Center to schedule an interview at one of the licensing offices, in order to continue the process. (Those of you with even a passing familiarity with the Israeli postal system will understand that just this exchange of paperwork can add months to the process)

• If you leave the country for any reason, your gun must be stored in a licensed facility

• You have to renew your gun permit every 3 years

• To renew, you need to be re-evaluated by a medical doctor

• To renew, you need to go to a licensed shooting range for target practice and safety training

• If you no longer meet the eligibility criteria (eg,you lose your tourguide license or you move out of the allowable area) you must return your license and firearm to the police within 72 hours

For the full details, google “israel firearm licensing information.”

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