Israel is a progressive and advanced country. The technology modern, the food exquisite and the views heavenly.
But the 68-year-old country is third world in many regards as well. The driving is savage and feral, the culture is self-centered, and the many laws are loosely enforced.
When I walk down the street, I see Jews and Muslims walking side by side, avoiding contact and desperately limiting their encounters. There’s an unspoken disconnect between the two, both sides hoping to stay out of trouble.
It gets worse in cities like Jaffa and Jerusalem, where tourist attractions bring people of all faiths and backgrounds to the same area.
In such a nation, you would think it makes sense for every citizen to own a firearm and bring their guns to most everywhere, just in case.
Well, that’s not the reality here. You see, in Israel it is not a legal right to own or carry a firearm as it is in the United States. It’s actually quite difficult to obtain a personal gun in Israel.
A 2014 survey found that in Israel, the rate of gun ownership is 7.7 guns for every 100 Israeli, non-active military personnel, compared with 88.8 guns per 100 Americans
These statistics correlate to show a drastic difference in the number of gun-related deaths and injuries between the United States and Israel. The annual rate of gun-related deaths and injuries in Israel is 2.10 people for every 100,000 citizens. The same data for the United States is over five times greater — 10.38 citizens for every 100,000.
The reason for these differences lies in the gun control and restrictions of both countries.
Israelis can only legally own a gun past the age of 21, assuming they finished their mandatory military service (if they did not serve in the military, the age requirement is 27).
To purchase a firearm, a citizen must first apply for a license through the government and pass a criminal background check. Next, applicants must undergo psychological analysis, insuring their mental stability. Before the firearm license is issued, there must be a valid reason to own a gun — “Just in case” doesn’t work. As a final precaution, the license must be renewed every three years.
Great, so now you have a gun. Bullets are a whole other deal. The Israeli gun license restricts most gun holders to 50 bullets. Additionally, the bullets’ cost is inflated compared to other countries.
Typical ammunition in the United States can be as cheap as $9 a pack. The same supply would cost just about 200 New Israeli Sheckles, the equivalent of $52, in the US.
Moreover, almost every area has a security checkpoint.
I was screened and my bag opened every time I entered a mall, the train station and even on my visit to Tel-Aviv University, which was not in session, mind you.
In addition, security officers inspect people as they enter every stadium, concert hall, bank or any other venue; car trunks are even checked before the car is allowed to park.
Such check points can be time consuming, but as with anything, people adapt and to the native Israelis, they are no more than routine.
I would willingly give up a few seconds of my day to open my bag and walk through a metal detector in exchange for knowing everyone around me has also been screened.
Don’t think I’m naïve. I know Israel has countless problems – every day there is a threat of attack. Yet, every day the attacks are reduced by the country’s set security procedures.
No doubt I feel more secure back home in the United States, but now being able to compare, the lack of regulation here shocks me.
One can argue guns are more necessary in Israel, yet they are more common in the United States.
I understand the Land of the Free is simply on ensuring the second amendment is protected, but it seems as if it needs a reinterpretation or revocation — at least if the safety and well-being of its citizens are a priority.