Gun Free Kitchen Tables Campaign is a multi-organizational effort, led by the Gun Free Kitchen Tables project of the Isha L’Isha Feminist Center. The Campaign mission links focused goals with far-reaching objectives: Campaigning to save lives, predominantly women’s, by advancing enforcement of an unenforced law (partly) disarming the domestic sphere by restricting security guards' guns to their work sites, GFKT meanwhile introduces feminist perspectives into Israel’s security discourse, works to stem and reverse small arms proliferation, to advance gun control across the board, including strict oversight of an armed private industry whose tens of thousands of employees form a major engine of small arms proliferation. Through challenging and changing public perceptions of small arms, we also subvert basic principles of the endemic, masculinized militarization dominating government policies in Israel and underpinning the continued occupation of territories conquered in 1967.
Since 2002 the off-duty arms of private security firms have taken at least 33 innocent lives in Israel. Most of the victims, 18 of them women, were killed in the domestic sphere. Gun Free Kitchen Tables monitors and documents killings with the off-duty arms of private security guards, based on media reports. Additional women and men were killed with the arms of security guards in a variety of circumstances. They were murdered in the public sphere rather than the private, family one, some killed in accidents, others mis-identified. No government agency conducts systematic documentation of these deaths. Therefore, the total number of victims of security firms’ arms, both in the line of duty and after duty, remains unknown. The large percentage of women among the victims of security firms’ arms in the domestic sphere is, however, unsurprising. Elsewhere in the world, studies have shown that the risk of a woman’s murder rises 3 to 5 times in homes with firearms. In Israel too, authorities recognize the presence of a firearm in the home as a distinct risk factor.
The GFKT project founded in 2010, which convened the GFKT Campaign in 2011, was the practical sequel of a first-ever study of the private security guard industry in Israel/Palestine. The study uncovered the previously sidelined implications of this industry, including the pattern of shootings of intimates in the home sphere with guards’ off-duty guns. While the study was already in print, towards publication in 2009, an amendment of Israel’s 1949 Firearms Act was enacted in 2008, in the form of Clause 10c(b), restricting security guards’ licenses to bear arms to each guard’s place of work.
The law was amended on the recommendation of a top-level inter-ministerial committee appointed by the Minister of the Interior in 2005 to investigate and improve the licensing and oversight of guards’ small arms in Israel. The final recommendations, submitted and approved in full by the government in 2005, included ending the practice of sending guards home with company guns after work shifts, in an attempt to prevent the killing and injury of innocent people. In addition, the committee warned against dangerous over-armament and an excessive use of armed guards, recommending significant reductions in their numbers. The study motivating foundation of GFKT followed the disappearance (at the time) of these policy recommendations and the consequent failure to protect the lives they were designed to save.
Publication of the study led to the foundation, in 2010, of Gun Free Kitchen Tables, a project of the Isha L’Isha Feminist Center. The project soon proceeded to convene a coalition with the same title, the Gun Free Kitchen Tables Campaign. The Campaign—now comprising 13 partner organizations and groups—has evolved into an ongoing collaborative initiative. Drawing on their specific expertise, partner organizations collaborate on different aspects of the Campaign work. For instance, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel takes the lead in work within Israel’s parliament and assists with outreach to media; Noga Center for Rights of Crime Victims and Tmura AntiDiscrimination Legal Center are co-workers on civil suits filed by victims of gun violence with guards’ guns; Hollaback Israel is a mainstay of GFKT new media work; Itach-Maaki works to integrate arms control into a National Action Plan for implementing Security Council Resolution 1325; Psychoactive, New Profile and others allow the Campaign access to their organizational networks.
GFKT was initiated and continues to be led by two women: Atty. Smadar Ben Natan a legal expert on women’s rights and human rights and Rela Mazali, writer, independent researcher and long-time feminist and human rights activist. In 2012, Atty. Galit Lubetzky joined the regular GFKT staff.
Association for Civil Rights in Israel
Coalition of Women for Peace
Itach-Maaki – Women Lawyers for Social Justice
Isha L’Isha Feminist Center
Israel Women’s Network
L.O. – Combatting Violence Against Women
Noga – The Israeli Center for Rights of Crime Victims
Physicians for Human Rights – Israel
Tmura – The Antidiscrimination Legal Center
Women and Their Bodies