Israel to restrict gun possession for security guards

Israel Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has signed an order to reduce the number of security guards permitted to bear weapons outside of working hours. According to the new ordinance, security guards will not be allowed to take their guns home at the end of their shift in institutions that have around-the-clock security, starting July. They will be allowed to take their weapons home from institutions with part-time security, such as schools and entertainment venues.

Four years ago, Erdan approved carrying weapons after hours, while adopting a policy that made it easier to obtain a gun permit. This new ordinance is expected to cut the number of gun-carrying security guards outside work hours by half. There are currently 148,108 weapons in private hands as well as 31,391 weapons in the possession of companies providing security services. This does not include members of the police or the military.

According to figures of the Gun-Free Kitchen Table anti-gun coalition, seven people were shot dead by weapons carried by security guards since Erdan’s change of policy in 2015. The latest fatality was Yelena Yitzhakbaev, shot dead by her partner Slavik Mavashev with a pistol he possessed as part of his work as a security guard. Erdan’s bureau said that the minister’s decision was unrelated to any specific incident.

Erdan’s current decision reverses his earlier move to expand the number of people carrying weapons in public spaces. In 2013, following appeals by civil society groups to then-Public Security Minister, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, it was decided that security guards would not be allowed to carry guns after work. Gun-Free Kitchen Table members say that 36 men and women were shot dead by such guns between 2002 and 2013.