How many US schools have armed guards

Why school massacres are so rare in Israel

It is almost impossible for unauthorized persons to enter an Israeli school with a weapon

Photo: Revitalb | Public domain

After the massacre at a school in Florida, the gun laws debate has reignited in the United States. Participants in a meeting with President Trump cited Israel as a positive example.

School safety belongs in the hands of professionals. Students, parents and teachers called on President Donald Trump to tighten gun controls in the United States. They quoted Israel, where guns are a familiar sight but school massacres are unknown. When it comes to school security, nothing is left to chance in Israel. Firearms in the hands of ambitious laypeople would be unthinkable in Israel.

"I'm 15 years old, a freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and a survivor of the mass shooting last week." So begins the public prosecution of student Alexis Tracton. “I am angry and sad. I did active target practice before I could read and write. Why do children learn to hide? I know this answer. Because they are the symbol of American freedom. Guns are omnipresent in this country. ”And the young person continues:“ Why should a teacher have to undergo extensive firearms training? It's hard enough to teach. It is just not a teacher's job to wield a weapon. "

The parents of the murdered students have been invited to the White House. They also told President Trump about their impressions from Israel. The Israeli schools have so far largely escaped an American-style violence. Most schools in Israel have only one unlocked entrance with an armed guard. Security guards stationed in front of schools are closely monitored by the police. It is not about deterring “restless young people” or lonely crazy people. "The guards are there for other reasons, mainly terrorism," says Amos Schavit, spokesman for the Ministry of Education. In major cities in Israel, the police and community conduct security patrols around educational institutions throughout the school day. Therefore, despite the greatest threat, there have so far only been two "successful" attacks by terrorists: 1974 in Ma'alot and 2008 in Kiriat Mosche.

Guns for professionals only

There are no metal detectors or special door locks in Israel's classrooms. And the guidelines state that teachers are not armed.

“Experts deal with security,” says Schavit. "Not the teachers." Israeli security experts also say that firearm attacks are rare in Israel because there are hardly any privately held weapons. According to the Israeli Interior Ministry, which registers all weapon owners, around 260,000 Israelis, or 3.5 percent, have them of the population, half of them are private individuals, the others work for security companies.

Israelis serve in the military from 18 to 21 years of age. Soldiers can often be seen on the streets and combat troops, as well as those who live in so-called combat areas, always carry their weapons with them. However, according to an Israeli government website, civilians must be over the age of 27 to obtain a gun license. Because a person needs more life experience to handle the weapon independently than one can expect from a young recruit who is part of the military chain of command.

Strictest requirements for private gun owners

Once an Israeli has finished military service, he or she must produce extensive documentation and provide all military records and medical reports. He must also demonstrate the need to be armed. For example, the residents of Tel Aviv hardly ever get a gun license, while Israelis in border areas or in settlements in the West Bank are more likely to get gun licenses. These are places where they could be targets for Palestinian fighters. In addition, retired army officers of a certain rank, former police officers, firefighters, paramedics, veterans of the special forces and licensed public transport drivers can also receive a permit.

Simon Perry, a criminologist at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, says there is little opportunity in Israel to stage a massacre in a school. “Most of the people in Israel join the military. Even if they are not combat soldiers, they receive weapons training. You will learn how to handle a weapon and how to respect a weapon. It is very, very difficult to get a weapon in Israel. ”The requirements for permits are strict. Owners are subject to a number of restrictions on the types of guns and the amount of ammunition they can have, as well as guidelines on where to keep their guns, such as locked safes. The police also check the safety of the guns if registered gun owners leave the country for more than a week.

Janet Rosenbaum, assistant professor at the State University of New York Downstate's School of Public Health in Brooklyn, studied the difference in homicide rates in Israel and the United States. Their research showed that Israel ranks 81st in the world for gun ownership per capita. Less than 10 percent of Israelis have a firearm. The United States comes first with one firearm per person.

Israeli Arabs: Weapons represent masculinity

The phenomenon of numerous illegal and therefore officially unrecorded weapons in possession of Israeli Arabs is widely discussed in Israel. For many Arabs, gun ownership is a cultural issue. Similar to the Americans, the gun is a sign of masculinity. The rifles and pistols are used for "happy shots" at weddings and family celebrations, which repeatedly leads to ricochets with fatal results. These weapons became a topic after the fatal attack on two Druze police officers in Israeli uniforms on the Jerusalem Temple Mount in July 2017. The police organized an "open day" throughout Israel and asked the Arabs to surrender their weapons anonymously. But only one pistol was handed over. The establishment of police stations in Arab villages is also being discussed. But this initiative has not yet progressed very far.

From: Ulrich W. Sahm