We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Un nouvel ami

French police are now allowed to carry their guns when off duty. But why stop there? I would like to have seen more bullets going the other way in Paris. I don’t happen to agree with his recent posts about immigration, but Vox Day is wondering about how to defend against terror attacks, and it applies to all criminal shooting sprees. The goodies vastly outnumber them so the baddies should not have it so easy. The first step is to allow people to defend themselves. What I do not know is how willing to do it people would be.

65 comments to Un nouvel ami

  • RRS

    It is that very doubt about the capabilities and will of individuals that begins and sustains the influence and power of the statists.

  • rxc

    People who are opposed to public ownership of guns think that they should all be removed from the public sphere, and only officials should have them. I imagine that their position is not changed by recent events. It is interesting that one terrorist attack was defeated on a train by unarmed US military, and there is some evidence that in states in the US where firearms are permitted, there is less crime. But this is not easy to assess. I think it is more likely that the shooters in the cafes in Paris and at the Bataclan would have had a MUCH harder time shooting up some place in, say, Texas, instead of in Paris.

    The counter argument against allowing the populace to arm itself is that people do stupid, harmful things with guns. True, but they can also do good things with guns, which is not acknowledged. The hard part is determining whether the good outweighs the bad. In normal times, maybe the bad cannot be tolerated, but when times get bad, and you have no set of experienced shooters to mobilize (i.e., “the militia” or a large number of former military), then it can be difficult for a society to defend itself against a determined opponent. The Swiss and the Israelis seem to have no problem allowing a significant fraction of the populace to keep fully automatic military weapons in their houses, but the Brits and others do not.

    There are a lot of weapons in France, in the hands of the public, but no one wants to talk about that. I think it is true in other countries, as well, including even the UK. And very few of those people carry their weapons in public.

  • rxc

    One other thought.

    There are three things that keep the world from devolving completely into a unified totalitarian state like China: (1) the internet (invented my Mr. Gore, (PBUH)), (2) the US First Amendment, which ensures that all sorts of unaccepted, unacceptable, unpalatable, and disturbing things are said on the internet, and (3) the US Second Amendment, which is the reason that the US First Amendemnt and the Internet still exist.

  • Alisa

    the Israelis seem to have no problem allowing a significant fraction of the populace to keep fully automatic military weapons in their houses

    Yes they do. I am getting really tired of pointing out that Israeli gun laws are worse than those in the UK or most of Europe.

  • Alisa

    What I do not know is how willing to do it people would be

    What RSS said. That question is irrelevant, Rob, as there is no need for everyone to carry a gun, only for enough random people who are willing to do so, provided the rest of the population does not object. Unless it was the objection that you had in mind?

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    Alisa, I visited Jerusalem with work and guys in the office were openly carrying. So there is *something* about Israel that is better than the UK, even if things are not as good as I had imagined.

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    Btw, I agree not everyone needs to be prepared to fight back. I was wondering still if *enough* people would. The Vox Day article talks about game theory: even though an unarmed crowd could beat a gunman if they all worked together and stormed him, they won’t. So I am just wondering if the numbers could work out, given current culture.

  • Alisa

    I don’t know who they were and what kind of permit they had – my guess is that they lived in the “territories”? The fact is that the laws here are at least as restrictive as anywhere in the West, other than certain states in the US.

    I agree with your second point, but what I took from RRS’ comment is that if people would be allowed to carry weapons and use them when necessary, public opinion would gradually change (albeit probably not too drastically), especially following recent events. I could be wrong though, and besides it probably would also depend on the particular country and culture.

  • Sam Duncan

    I was about to say what Alisa did, but you make a good point, Rob. It certainly doesn’t require a majority to be carrying for it to deter criminals, but if there had only been, say, two or three armed spectators in the Bataclan, it wouldn’t necessarily have made much difference (yes, one can imagine scenarios in which it might have made all the difference, but the balance of probability is that they’d only have been a relatively minor annoyance to the attackers). There does need to be some willingness among the general public.

    Then again, it may not have to be much. 5% – 12-15 people at the Bataclan, as I understand the numbers – might start to pose an obstacle.

    One other thing has occurred to me over the years about “gun control”, which Vox Day touches upon, and it’s that a disarmed public ceases to think in terms of defending itself. Take cover and wait for the Authorities to take control, is what we’re taught from childhood. Don’t take the law into your own hands. Even if only a small number are actually carrying, the mindset of a people which allows its fellow citizens to be armed is one in which even the unarmed may be willing to, for example, create a distraction while the others fight back.

  • Alisa

    Sam, your last para is exactly what I was trying to get at – well put.

  • Mr Ed

    In Great Britain, you wouldn’t dream of tackling a gunman unless you had a written and signed off risk assessment, method statement, hard hat and hi-viz jacket.

    You think I am being silly, but at Catterick Army garrison I have seen with my own eyes in broad daylight soldiers posted as sentries at the gate with rifles, wearing camo uniform and fluorescent bibs.

  • qet

    “If they use their gun whilst off-duty in the event of a terrorist attack, they must put on the armband.”

    What, before or after? The French just can’t get out of their own way.

  • Clovis Sangrail

    @Mr ED
    At RAF base last weekend. Guard armed with full-auto weapon (SA80 A2) and dressed in camos (no bib) at the gate. Very polite, of course.

  • Paul Marks

    Ironically even in the State of socialist Bernie Sanders (Vermont) the terrorists would have been shot down as soon as they attacked.

    It is a State with a lot of firearms.

    One bit of the old “Rock Ribbed” Republican Vermont that the New York immigrants who took over the State did NOT reject.

    I would not be surprised if even old Bernie has a firearm.

    The ghosts of the old Vermont (the Vermont that voted against Franklin Roosevelt four times) smile upon this.

    They would not smile at Islamist terrorists.

  • Laird

    You’re not getting your guns back. Period. Your masters have disarmed you, and they’re never willingly going to permit you to re-arm. Too much risk for the political class. You don’t really think they care about such prosaic things as defending yourself from criminals, or even fighting back against terrorists, do you?

    That’s why defending the 2nd Amendment is so important over on this side of the Atlantic. Rights lost are never regained absent significant bloodshed. Personally, I’ll take the bloodshed in defense of those rights, rather than in seeking their restoration.

  • bobby b

    Here in my mid-USA state, I possess a permit which allows me to carry a weapon in twenty-eight other states as well as my own. I got this permit by taking a four-hour class which covered gun laws and the law of self-defense.

    My state’s current population is approximately 5.5 million. As of June of this year, approximately 210,000 pistol permits have been issued. This means approximately 4% of the people in my state are now permitted.

    Aside from the coastal belt states on each side of this country, which are dominated by anti-gun regimes, my state is in the low-average range of states for the percentage of people with permits.

    Crime has decreased in virtually every state which allows the carrying of weapons. Those cities which are suffering from high (and increasing) levels of violence are those cities with the most onerous of gun restrictions. Permitted weapons carriers are statistically very unlikely to make ill use of their weapons.

    An armed society is a more polite society. Pull out a gun and shout some religious inanity here, and you’re very likely going to die. If you pull out your AK in a venue with 2000 of my fellow citizens, the numbers suggest that you will face eighty armed people. I suggest that that would be something more than a speedbump on the way to a massacre.

  • JohnK


    I think we have seen settlers in the West Bank on TV packing Uzis, and seem to have got the impression that all Israelis are thus tooled up. Don’t they want to be, especially given the current wave of knife attacks? I assume the settlers get some sort of dispensation to own their weapons. In fact, do they own them, or are they lent them by the government?

  • Martha

    An individual’s access to weaponry is inconsequential in this context. The containment and eventual elimination of militarized criminal activities requires, at least, militia level organization. The lone avenger is a pipe dream of “gun rights” and “2nd amendment” mental masturbators.

  • rxc


    You should tell that to the people on that TGV who were saved by an unarmed US military person who decided to actually do something, rather than just sit there and be killed. He had the skills and attitude that made a difference. As one of the other commenters said, when you take away all of their arms, the people lose interest in defending themselves, and turn into compliant lumps. This is what is intended, and it is what happens. People who don’t accept that status, defend themselves.

    In the UK there has been a movement, driven by doctors, to eliminate knives with points, even kitchen knives, on the grounds that they are not necessary for cooking, or any other lawful purpose. This is the way it goes – take away the guns, then take away the knives, then take away any rocks or sticks or anything else, and keep the recalcitrant ones locked in psychiatic wards. Your ridicule is a standard tactic of the sort of totalitarian who wants to make everyone else into subservient proles.

  • bobby b

    “The containment and eventual elimination of militarized criminal activities requires, at least, militia level organization.”

    Five attackers require five well-aimed shots. Fifteen attackers require fifteen well-aimed shots. All of those well-aimed shots might not happen, and some of the attackers might well kill others. But every attacker killed is . . . well . . . one fewer attacker. And, I like my odds better my way.

    “The lone avenger is a pipe dream of “gun rights” and “2nd amendment” mental masturbators.”

    Thank you. I can dismiss your views outright. You bring nothing to the discussion.

  • Cristina

    “You’re not getting your guns back. Period. Your masters have disarmed you, and they’re never willingly going to permit you to re-arm. Too much risk for the political class. You don’t really think they care about such prosaic things as defending yourself from criminals, or even fighting back against terrorists, do you?”

    Perfectly said, Laird

  • newrouter

    The lone avenger is a pipe dream of “gun rights” and “2nd amendment” mental masturbators.

    herein the usa, the shooter upper types prefer “no gun zones” like movie theaters, schools, universities and us military installations clown.

  • newrouter

    The lone avenger is a pipe dream of “gun rights” and “2nd amendment” mental masturbators.

    or isn’t widely reported because of the media “narrative”?

  • Martha

    If only the police forces were manned with these keyboard superheroes…

    The fact is that use terrorism to justify private gun ownership is, at best, delusional. The same can be said about the 2nd amendment. Consider, after all, what it says:

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed…”

    What sane human being thinks that a handgun is keeping the government honest? Let’s see. The government has military capacity that, for example, ranges from a tank to a drone and has these in untold numbers. The forest people of Kansas have… what again to make sure the nation remains “free from tyranny”?

    The fact is that the 2nd amendment has become an anachronism.

    Even the justification of private gun ownership on account of delinquency simply points to a break down of civil society that requires remedies beyond a pistol.

    Personally, I support the private ownership of guns of any type. Any type. But to justify ownership on the grounds usually alleged (delinquency, terrorism, obsolete legalisms, etc) is, let’s be clear, infantile and ultimately counterproductive. See reality for details.

  • Phil B

    For those who aren’t mathematically inclined, you might want to go and fetch a pocket calculator before reading on … Got one? OK.

    In the UK there are “Officially” 65 million people and of the Police, there are 6,000 officers trained and authorised to bear arms (i.e. GUNS).

    Now, as the Police work a 3 shift system, working an 8 hour shift, that means that there are 2000 police officers ready to respond to an incident at any one time (unless they only work day and evening shifts).

    Or one officer per 32,500 people.

    Makes you sleep soundly at night when you calculate the odds of an armed officer being able to respond in a timely manner to prevent a massacre. The terrorist is liable to get cramp in his trigger finger or run out of ammunition long before the Police arrive.

    But we can’t (GASP!) allow the public to be armed and “Take the law into their own hands” (question – in whose hands IS the Law?) but they must sit nicely while they are slaughtered so the Politicians can feel morally superior.

    I’m glad I’m in New Zealand …

  • Dom

    Did you have to cite Vox Day? The man who wrote this:

    “… female independence is strongly correlated with a whole host of social ills. Using the utilitarian metric favored by most atheists, a few acid-burned faces is a small price to pay for lasting marriages, stable families, legitimate children, low levels of debt, strong currencies, affordable housing, homogenous populations, low levels of crime, and demographic stability.”

  • Dom

    On re-reading Vox Day, I think perhaps what he meant was, this is how the taliban thinks. It’s a very confusing post.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Nomination for SQOTD, from RRS, November 20, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    It is that very doubt about the capabilities and will of individuals that begins and sustains the influence and power of the statists.

  • Vulgar Madman

    How strange that every totalitarian society disarms its victims, according to Martha, there is no need to.

  • newrouter

    Even the justification of private gun ownership on account of delinquency simply points to a break down of civil society that requires remedies beyond a pistol.

    some violent ahole shows up unannounced they get shot dead in a post “law and order” society. you proggtarded scum want a post “law and order” society.

  • bobby b

    “It is that very doubt about the capabilities and will of individuals that begins and sustains the influence and power of the statists.”

    I’d guess that it’s more the fear of the capabilities and will of individuals that begins and sustains the influence and power of the statists.

    But then, they might well mean the same thing.

  • newrouter

    About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.


  • Myno

    “See reality for details.”

    To protect a free society, free of surveillance, the citizenry must arm itself. Such a society would likely incur more havoc from terrorists than a society that was disarmed but protected by massive surveillance, even in the long term. That havoc would be seen as part of the cost of freedom, and preferrable to the direct and side-effects of the mass surveillance state.

    And then the society would evolve under those conditions, in ways that are not difficult to predict. Surely the fraction of people who went around armed, and their individual level of training, would respond to the level of havoc. If terrorists continued to wrek havoc in the face of a moderately armed citizenry, then the level of carry would increase, likely to far greater carry rates than even Texas. Thus that society would progress beyond the “real world” data that Martha blithely invokes.

    As we are oft needful of saying, we do not live in free societies, and so posing the “real world” as counterexample to the value of capitalism, gold standards, open carry… is fraught with straw men.

  • Laird

    Bobby B, in my state about 5.25% of the population has a concealed carry permit. A substantial portion of the remainder also have guns, both long guns (for hunting) and pistols which either aren’t carried concealed or are carried without benefit of any permit (“the 2nd Amendment is my permit” is a popular slogan around here). I would be very surprised if fewer than 40% of households have firearms on the premises. Personally, it makes me feel good to know that many of my neighbors are armed.

  • Martha

    Myno, there is no realistic scenario under which an armed citizenry can overpower, even influence, a modern government. Under the most “optimistic” circumstances, a collection of armed citizens can carry out terrorist acts. But no more. It is, btw, precisely what we are seeing, that is, extremely uneven warfare.

    Modern societies require far more complex (and satisfactory) regulatory mechanisms than gun ownership.

  • Laird

    Martha, that’s a tired old argument, extremely superficial and utterly wrong. Government depends upon the willing acquiescence of a substantial majority of the population. If it began to employ military force against resisters it would quickly lose the support of substantially more. Do you seriously think the federal government would deploy tanks, attack helicopters or even nukes against its own people? It would immediately lose the support of much of the military as well as most of the populace. And those “terrorist acts” of which you are so dismissive would include targeted assassinations. They would be very effective. I suggest that you consider this. It wouldn’t take a majority, or even a substantial minority, of the population to force the government to back down. Even a few percent would do the trick, provided they were well armed and committed.

    Europe has long been emasculated, but that’s not (yet) true of the US. The 2nd Amendment remains a bulwark against overly oppressive government. Of course, what we consider “oppressive” can change over time, which is why the statists employ a long, slow strategy of incremental advance. They’re very slowly “boiling the frog”, and in the long run might be successful. But we’re not close to that point yet, and they dare not turn up the heat too rapidly. It is precisely the widespread ownership of small arms which precludes it.

  • Martha

    Laird, you live in a world of fantasy. It is nonsensical to consider gun ownership a realistic form for the citizenry to exert control over a modern government. The disparity of military capacity is so vast, it is not worth another keystroke.

  • Julie near Chicago

    It’s interesting how much trouble conventional forces tend to have with guerilla fighters.

    . . .

    There is considerable controversy even among strong 2-A supporters, let alone the benighted, as to whether the Second intends (or should be* taken to intend) to allow only “handguns” (annd, one would suppose, rifles and shotguns)or whether it was intended to guarantee the right to use all forms of “arms.” Many have noted that at the time, there were such things as cannons privately owned and put to use in fighting the British. So some argue that if the military can use a weapon, the Second allows private citizens to use the same weapon. Very interesting.

    Nobody much talks about it, but what about bows and arrows (which can be quite lethal), and crossbows, and if you want to get exotic about it, nunchuks? Also, of course, throwing knives, javelins, and so forth…are those also “arms”?

  • Julie near Chicago

    It is true, however, that Tiananmen Square happened.

  • Myno

    Martha, you completely misunderstand the purpose of an armed citizenry in the time of terrorism. The citizens are not taking arms against their government. They are ready to defend themselves in case they happen to find themselves in the line of fire. The purpose is not to influence the government. It is to offer a line of defense in a conflict that has increasingly fractal edges, where government response is mathematically improbable. No regulatory mechanism you could imagine, short of locking down the citizens, can hope to cope with this situation. My measure of “satisfactory” is clearly quite different than yours.

  • Martha

    Well, Myno, if you want to sidestep the 2nd amendment, that’s fine. I do too. I find zero evidence that gun ownership has any bearing on the governance of a modern nation.

    Regarding the ownership of guns to somehow personally fight terrorism as a “line of defense”, I can only say that it sounds ludicrous. If the government cannot do it, you alone have zero chance. There is a fantasy where armed buddies singlehandedly take down the Paris terrorists and then there is the reality where only a complex set of measures can begin to tackle those kinds of atrocities.

    Having said this, the disagreement between us is not about the ownership of weapons since we are both for it. Just to be clear, since other commenters seem to have reading difficulties, the disagreement comes regarding the rationale to support legal ownership together with my utter inability to consider a handgun as being somehow magical.

  • Myno

    Martha, your appeal to a “complex set of measures” strikes me as of a kind with the sorts of expert-loving arguments made by Keynesians about the inadequacies of the Free Market. The serious consequence of invoking experts to run your society, or equivalently appealing to the need for some regulation that cannot possibly come from the Unseen Hand of individual action, is to so constrain individual action as to achieve a totalitarian result.

    When I used the phrase “line of defense”, it was not as in the Maginot Line. One cannot erect barriers against terrorism, without incurring unacceptable loss of precious freedom. Governments can’t stop it, and certainly an armed citizenry cannot stand as some “ludicrous” bulwark against such incursions. But when jihadis open fire on a crowd, if a reasonable fraction of the crowd is armed, the disaster comes to as quick a close as it possibly could, and certainly faster than awaiting some governmental response.

    When the threat is a fractal, one does not try to meet it with a defense of fixed dimension… that simply makes no mathematical sense. You stop a fractal with a fractal of like order, which in this case is an armed citizenry. This is not “magical”. It is rational.

  • Alisa

    JohnK, some* of the settlers do own handguns. The laws here broadly prohibit the ownership of guns, with a few exemptions – residents of certain communities deemed dangerous, and people who work in those areas are the main demographic enjoying such exemptions, AFAIK.

    *Like everywhere else, not everyone is willing to own, let alone use, a weapon. In that regard, the Israeli society has over the years become quite similar to many European ones. That, just as in Paris and elsewhere, notwithstanding the security threats.

  • Taking away knives with points… Have the BMA ever tried de-seeding a red pepper?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Remember Beslan….

  • the other rob

    Alisa – I’m sorry that you keep having to correct misconceptions about Israeli firearms laws. I remember when I first benefited from one such explanation – it was enlightening, if a little disappointing.

    As to the subject matter; I came of age in England, when the IRA were running around with illegally held firearms and murdering people. I now live in Texas. This is not a coincidence.

  • A Swiss

    @ rxc:
    They did in Texas when two persons who ABSOLUTELXY had nothing to do with the Religion of Peace (TM) tried a shoot out a “Draw a Pedophile” contest.

    They ended up being very dead indeed.

  • RRS

    Looking through most of this should lead us to distinguish two very different points:

    1. The control of violence in a social order; and,

    2. The Max Weber dictum of monopoly of control of violence.

    They differ in effect when violence is “internal” and disruptive rather than external origin violence which is destructive. In one set of conditions (internal) the “monopoly” case can limit disruptions; externally originated violence may, and usually does, require either greater expansion of the monopoly power or the power of other participation.

  • Alisa

    Thanks, Other Rob.

    if a little disappointing

    To me it is rather frustrating, which I’m sure you knew already.

  • Laird

    I agree with what Myno said at 9:04 AM.

    Martha seems to be conflating two very different things, and she is wrong about both. The first is civil defense against terrorist attacks, and Myno covered that adequately. The second is resistance to one’s own tyrannical government. Of course the citizenry could not mount a conventional action against a professional military, but to suggest that is what would happen is risible. Conventional militaries never perform well against guerilla actions. That’s why the colonists won the American revolution; it’s how the Afghans fought off the entire Soviet army for a decade and ultimately sent them packing. And it’s precisely what would happen should the US descend into violence. Small arms (not just pistols) are more than adequate for such a purpose.

    Julie, put me in the second of your groups: “arms” means all arms. The colonists had essentially the same weaponry as did the British army, if not in the same quantity. (Cannon are expensive and of limited utility outside of actual war, so there weren’t too many in private hands. There were quite a few on merchant ships, however.) That was the reality when the 2nd Amendment was ratified, and what it was intended to mean. It still holds today.

  • Darrell

    “Forest people of Kansas”? That’s funny stuff right there, and enough to tell me that Martha hasn’t a clue. In the case of the government vs the people, the question is whether the armed forces would hold to their oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution, i.e., the Second Amendment, to name just one. Also, as Yamamoto supposedly said, “there would be a rifle behind every blade of grass”.

    In the case of stopping mass shooters, One woman with a gun stopped the New Life Church shooter before he had a chance to kill a lot of people.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Laird, I can live with that. But you’ll have to wrest my cannon away from my cold, dead hands. :>)) By the way — I was under the impression that the merchant ships of the Revolutionary era were private ships.

    Darrell, thanks for the New Life Church reference. I couldn’t remember the name, but I certainly remember (reading about) the event.

  • RRS

    On this date (Nov. 21) 41 years ago 21 people (two more than were killed in Mali yesterday) were murdered by bombs in two London pubs.

    How different were the objectives of the killers; how different the modes of killings?

    From those aspects we should be able to understand the motivations and actions for defense by individuals even in the context of collective (or “state”) functions.

    It is the source and objectives of violence that require consideration calling for individual responses. Those responses may require the use of violence, deadly force. Whatever limits that latter option, increases the availability of violence from more sources with more diverse (often inchoate) objectives.

  • Laird

    Julie, you are correct about the merchant ships, and that’s what I meant. I just didn’t express myself well.

    I certainly don’t want to take away your cannon! (But you remind me of a line from “Tremors” [one of my favorite movies], where one of the protagonists is making a homemade bomb and inserts a length of cannon fuse. Another character asks why he has cannon fuse, for with the incredulous reply is “for my cannon”. You’ll understand if you watch this clip.)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Very well, Laird. In that case I advise you to stand back while I rotate the barrel on this thing so it’s not pointing at you. It has a tendency to go off on its own, so to speak. 🙂

    Tremors. I saw the preview but never the movie. I will have to wait for the next foray to Starbucks to watch the clip, because I’m on limited bandwidth at the moment. Heh…it sounds as if the character is delightfully literal-minded or else delightfully befuddled. Either way, I can relate. :>)!

  • Laird

    Julie, he is neither.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Ah. Well then, we shall see … whatever we shall see, as is so often the case. :>)

  • “Even the justification of private gun ownership on account of delinquency simply points to a break down of civil society that requires remedies beyond a pistol.”

    Is that why the left invented camps?

    Burt Gummer. An inspiring example for us all.

  • JohnK


    I have had a look of a precis of Israeli firearms laws, and they are not unlike those of Britain, and may well have derived from the era of the British mandate. It seems that target shooters may own guns, including pistols, but these are to be locked away when not in use, and are not for self-defence. Settlers in the West Bank may own pistols for self-defence, and may be issued rifles by the military. I had a feeling that those Uzis were loaners. Licensed hunters are allowed one shotgun, which is just stupid, and actually worse than Britain.

    So the upshot is that you are quite correct, and anyone who has gained the impression that the average Israeli can pack heat for self protection could not be more wrong. But what I would like to know, is do any Isrealis chafe at these restrictions? Or is the problem that many Palestinians are Israeli citizens, so you could not permit gun ownership for the Jewish Israelis without extending it to the Muslim Israelis? That may lie at the heart of it.

  • Alisa

    John, over the years there have been several directives issued by the Firearm Licensing Department at the Ministry of Public Security (and before that at the Ministry of Interior). These are not laws as in ‘results of formal legislation’, but basically the whims of whoever happens to be the Minister at any particular time, not to mention the Head of the Department. Not sure about similarities or lack thereof to what is going on in the UK. I do know that those directives tend to be increasingly more restrictive as time passes, with fewer and fewer licenses of all kinds, including those you mentioned, being issued every year.

    But what I would like to know, is do any Israelis chafe at these restrictions?

    Very, very few.

    Or is the problem that many Palestinians are Israeli citizens, so you could not permit gun ownership for the Jewish Israelis without extending it to the Muslim Israelis? That may lie at the heart of it.

    It is never mentioned officially, but if you ask the average Moshe or Haim in the street, you are likely to hear that mentioned occasionally. That is utter nonsense though, as Arab villages within the Green Line are swarming with guns, most if not all of them illegal. Everyone knows this, no one seems to be particularly bothered – except for some Arab citizens who see this as a factor contributing to violent crime within their community (a claim I tend to disagree with for the usual reasons, but it is so common everywhere else that I have no problem understanding it. BTW, the same goes for the Jewish crime scene, as it does everywhere else in the world). So no, this is not the real reason, it is just a lame excuse for the lazy.

  • JohnK


    There are some parallels with the UK. For instance, a “good reason” was needed to own a firearms after the introduction of gun control in Britain in 1920. Self-defence was initially accepted as a good reason, but less so over time, until in 1969 an administrative decision was made in secret by the Home Office, and all local Chief Constables (who formally issue the certificates) were told never to accept self-defence as a good reason. This decison was almost certainly unconstitutional, but by then the British population had become used to being disarmed, so it never really registered.

    I am more surprised about Israel, since all its citizens face a real terrorist threat, and most have military experience and are trained to shoot, which is certainly not the case in the UK. Even in Britain, the one part of the country which had a terrorist war going on, Northern Ireland, was forced to issue permits to carry pistols for self-defence to vulnerable people, such as judges, civil servants, prison officers etc. About 10,000 out of a population of 1.5 million are licensed to carry a concealed pistol, a fact that few people in Britain are aware of. Why Israelis submit to disarmament in the face of a real and present danger is a mystery.

  • Julie near Chicago


    Now I am back home, with cable & ethernet. (Civilization, in other words).

    I see what you mean about the cannon. As I watched I kept thinking, “Gosh, you’d think they’d have more guns!”


  • Julie near Chicago

    And now that Thanksgiving Day is officially over in my time zone, I do want to wish all Samizdatistas of whatever nationality a Happy Thanksgiving. 😉


  • Julie near Chicago

    For God’s sake, don’t let the Israelis succumb to the general Western malaise that would make them lose their sense of self-preservation!

  • Alisa

    John, it does sound similar – at least the attitude, if not the technical process.

    As to the mystery, not really, not on the part of the population. For better and worse, our psychology works the same way yours does – except for one part: Israelis are and have always been obsessed with being a “normal” nation (while remaining the “chosen people” at the same time*), with the British being a primary object of emulation, for obvious historical reasons. So the fact that we face security threats far more acute than those faced by the British (at least currently) is being ignored in this context*.

    *Psychology is not necessarily based in rationality, and so it accommodates logical contradictions quite happily.