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Crime Wave in Israel Knesset to Stiffen Penalties for Illegal Gun Carriers

Illegal carrying of a gun will be punishable by up to ten years imprisonment and possession of a gun by up to seven years under new legislation submitted to the Cabinet yesterday and scheduled for adoption by the Knesset later this month. The present law provides for a maximum term of up to four years for such violations.

Attorney General Meir Shamgar told the Cabinet that there has been an increase in violent crime in Israeli urban life. He said bank raids by robbers carrying and often firing submachine guns have been an almost daily occurrence in recent months. When the new law becomes effective, he said, people illegally in possession of such weapons will have a two-week amnesty period to hand the weapons over to authorities. Most illegal weapons in Israel are held as trophies of the 1967 Six-Day War, rather than with intent to commit crime. However, the Attorney General pointed out, these weapons can be and are stolen and wind up in the possession of criminals. Under a specific provision of the new law, Israelis turning in weapons will not have to give their identities.