Misleading post claims there are no school shootings in Israel because teens carry guns

·3-min read
Misleading post claims there are no school shootings in Israel because teens carry guns

Amid the debate on stricter gun control in the US following the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, misinformation about guns has spread online.

A misleading post has been widely shared on social media stating that Israel has never seen a mass shooting because teenagers can carry weapons to school.

The US House of Representatives has approved a new wide-ranging bill aimed at gun control, after recent mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo, New York.

This includes banning the sale of semiautomatic weapons to people under 21 and banning large-capacity magazines.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, there have been 2,052 school shooting incidents in the United States since 1970.

But Republican opposition in the Senate means that the new bill is highly unlikely to come into law. And amid the debate, misinformation about gun control has spread online, both in the US and around the world.

Euronews // Twitter
A misleading post said that Israel has had no shootings due to high gun ownership - Euronews // Twitter

A recent post claimed that there are no mass shootings in Israel because teenagers are allowed to carry guns to school.

Compared to the US, Israel has only had half a dozen attacks on its schools. Therefore, the claim that there are no shootings isn’t exactly true.

When it comes to gun ownership in Israel, it might seem surprising but only 2 per cent of the population owns guns.

One of the reasons is the strict preconditions for obtaining a personal firearm. A person must be over 27 years old or 18 if they have served in the Israeli military. They must also complete a mental health check and prove that their profession requires privately owning a gun.

On top of the strict gun controls, the acceptance rate for applicants wanting to obtain a firearm is about 65%, according to the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

After doing a reverse image search, Euronews has found that the photo used to spread the false claims has been published many times since 2014.

Although Euronews could not confirm the exact context of this photo, a blog described it as the women's section of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

Euronews // Tineye
Using a reverse image search, Euronews has found that this photo has been used many times since 2014 - Euronews // Tineye

These military personnel are allowed to carry guns in and out of uniform, once they are over the age of 18. There is no evidence that the photo shows teenagers carrying guns to class.

The false claim has generated misleading rumours that carrying guns mean that there is less violence in countries.

"The notion that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun has been debunked," said Iain Overton, the executive director of Action on Armed Violence.

"When you look at the data on mass shootings in the US, less than 2 per cent have been stopped by armed citizens. It's very rare that armed citizens end up shooting the shooter."

"This claim doesn't face up to hard facts and elements," he told Euronews.

In Europe, there have been multiple examples that highlight this argument. The UK had a number of mass shootings such as in Dunblane in 1996 and the Hungerford massacre in 1987 but then enforced stricter firearms legislation.

"The UK brought in very strict gun regulations that have worked. It has become very difficult to get your hands on a gun in the country," Overton said.

"We know that a relaxation of gun laws leads to an increase in gun deaths. This is irrefutable. We have never seen it go the other way."

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