A Land Without Guns: How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths
Max Fisher | Jul 23, 2012
<<What is the role of guns in Japan, the developed world's least firearm-filled nation and perhaps its strictest controller? In 2008, the U.S. had over 12 thousand firearm-related homicides. All of Japan experienced only 11, fewer than were killed at the Aurora shooting alone. And that was a big year: 2006 saw an astounding two, and when that number jumped to 22 in 2007, it became a national scandal. By comparison, also in 2008, 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally.
Almost no one in Japan owns a gun. Most kinds are illegal, with onerous restrictions on buying and maintaining the few that are allowed. Even the country's infamous, mafia-like Yakuza tend to forgo guns; the few exceptions tend to become big national news stories.
Japanese tourists who fire off a few rounds at the Royal Hawaiian Shooting Club would be breaking three separate laws back in Japan -- one for holding a handgun, one for possessing unlicensed bullets, and another violation for firing them -- the first of which alone is punishable by one to ten years in jail. Handguns are forbidden absolutely. Small-caliber rifles have been illegal to buy, sell, or transfer since 1971. Anyone who owned a rifle before then is allowed to keep it, but their heirs are required to turn it over to the police once the owner dies.
The only guns that Japanese citizens can legally buy and use are shotguns and air rifles, and it's not easy to do. The process is detailed in David Kopel's landmark study on Japanese gun control, published in the 1993 Asia Pacific Law Review, still cited as current. (Kopel, no left-wing loony, is a member of the National Rifle Association and once wrote in National Review that looser gun control laws could have stopped Adolf Hitler.)
To get a gun in Japan, first, you have to attend an all-day class and pass a written test, which are held only once per month. You also must take and pass a shooting range class. Then, head over to a hospital for a mental test and drug test (Japan is unusual in that potential gun owners must affirmatively prove their mental fitness), which you'll file with the police. Finally, pass a rigorous background check for any criminal record or association with criminal or extremist groups, and you will be the proud new owner of your shotgun or air rifle. Just don't forget to provide police with documentation on the specific location of the gun in your home, as well as the ammo, both of which must be locked and stored separately. And remember to have the police inspect the gun once per year and to re-take the class and exam every three years.
Even the most basic framework of Japan's approach to gun ownership is almost the polar opposite of America's. U.S. gun law begins with the second amendment's affirmation of the "right of the people to keep and bear arms" and narrows it down from there. Japanese law, however, starts with the 1958 act stating that "No person shall possess a firearm or firearms or a sword or swords," later adding a few exceptions. In other words, American law is designed to enshrine access to guns, while Japan starts with the premise of forbidding it. The history of that is complicated, but it's worth noting that U.S. gun law has its roots in resistance to British gun restrictions, whereas some academic literature links the Japanese law to the national campaign to forcibly disarm the samurai, which may partially explain why the 1958 mentions firearms and swords side-by-side.>>
EVERYBODY is required to carry a gun, they are supplied BY the government and they have the lowest crime rate in the world PERIOD.
Japan's crime rate is very low, and its gun crime rate virtually nil. Anti-gun lobbies tout Japan as the kind of nation that America could be, if only we would ban guns. Handgun Control quotes a Japanese newspaper reporter who writes: "It strikes me as clear that there is a distinct correlation between gun control laws and the rate of violent crime. The fewer the guns, the less the violence."
But while Japan may be a gun-banner's dream, it's a civil libertarian's nightmare. Japan's low crime rate has almost nothing to do with gun control and everything to do with people control. Americans, used to their own traditions of freedom, would not accept Japan's system of people controls and gun controls."
You cannot compare the population of the US with Sweden's. You cannot compare life in America to Swedish life. Is there mental health treatment available to all in Sweden, Raymond? Because it isn't available to all here. Is there an NRA pushing assault weaponry in Sweden like there is here? Is there a high degree of violence in Sweden like there is here?
I am sick and tired of you NRA apologists. If guns weren't so readily available to the criminally insane, as they are in the USA, then those deaths wouldn't have happened. How dare you try to put forth the argument that Sweden is a model for the USA in gun ownership after what happened the other day. If you can know about that tragedy and still support the NRA, something is seriously wrong with your thinking.
This post was modified from its original form on 16 Dec, 15:30
That's not true about Sweden at all, Raymond. Not one single one of my Swedish relatives carries guns or has even fired any. Guns are not a part of Swedish culture at all. Moreover, I've never even seen a gun store there. You might want to recheck your facts. Perhaps you're thinking of Switzerland.
In either case, it's not the fact that each household in Switzerland is required to have a firearm that keeps the gun violence down, it's the fact that the Swiss are infinitely more educated and responsible as a society. The mere act of keeping a firearm in your house has absolutely no effect on keeping an entire country's crime stats low whatsoever. If that were the case, the US would have virtually no crime, since most Americans own guns and they are very easily obtained, unlike in European countries.
Europeans are far more educated, far more responsible and they have totally different cultures. They believe in universal health care, for one. They also do not have extreme, pervasive and uncontrolled poverty that breeds the conditions which often results in gun violence, as does the US.
This post was modified from its original form on 16 Dec, 15:41
The USA disarmed Japan, wrote their Constitution, and restricted them to national defense forces only. They are also a society oriented towards groups, not individuals as is America's pioneer background. We have our culture because of our geography. Nobody is going to protect you when you live in a rural area, far from any county sheriff, and people in cities have learned that nobody's going to protect them in time anyways. We of course have made different cultural choices than the Japanese and we will continue to do so.
Imagine what Japanese culture would have been like if the USA had been less gun happy and more isolationist in 1941. Imagine if unlike Yamamoto, the Japanese leadership had been correct in their (low) estimate of us. We would have not liked getting our nose bloodied at Pearl Harbor and would have signed some armistice, with the sphere of Japanese interest assigned to all of Asia. For a few decades at least, they would have raped and pillaged everyone in Asia as they did the Chinese. Maybe they would have calmed down in time, or maybe they would have perpetuated atrocities indefinitely. In any event, Japanese culture partly owes *American* culture for what it is today. The A-Bomb gave them cultural license for "suffering what is unsufferable."
If you're going to judge country vs. country, you should consider the long term historical implications and trends. For instance consider British and French Colonial history of disarming populations, rather than any interest in making their colonies nice, safe places to take a stroll.
Consider the size, homogeneity, per capita wealth, and social equity of small, Socialist countries before you judge the USA. We aren't Sweden or Switzerland. That's like having just 1 of our States enact a gun ban.
No, Brandon. Here's the bottom line. There have been too many massacres of the innocent in this country due to the combined efforts of the GOP ideology of setting aside no money for health care (and this includes mental health) and the NRA gun lobby, that wants to use the second amendment to claim that Americans have a right to purchase exploding bullets and assault weaponry.
I don't need to consider any long term historical implilcations to know that any idiot can purchase a gun and that assault weapons have no place on the street.
The Virginia Tech killer used 2 handguns and piled up more bodies. People tend to focus on the tool, not realizing that other legal guns would be equally effective in those circumstances. How hard is it to shoot children? It's very easy to reload a handgun magazine and achieve a high rate of fire. The ammo used at Newton wasn't particularly powerful, hunting rifle rounds are usually more powerful. Gonna outlaw hunting rifles?
Sweden and Switzerland are Socialist countries, with better mental health care and general health care systems than we have in the USA. It is not surprising if they have fewer mass killings.
How do you figure that Sweden and Switzerland are socialist countries?
As usual, the right-wing American confuses countries with strong social programs as being "socialist."
Social programs do not equal socialism. All countries, Canada and the US included, have social programs to one degree or another, yet they are not socialist countries. Socialism is a political and economic system in which government owns the means of production.
Switzerland is a Federal Republic and Sweden is a Constitutional Monarchy. They are democratic societies with mixed economies.
You might want to do a bit more research. It is then that you will find the countries you think are socialist are in fact, not.
Sweden and Switzerland have a long history of Socialist political parties holding substantial numbers of seats in their Parliament, and making laws that reflect their views on how a nation should be governed. It would be incorrect to say that such countries are exclusively Socialist, as other parties have taken their turns in power as well. However the blueprint for their governmental institutions is strikingly different than the USA in many respects, so I hardly find the labeling unfair.
But they are not socialist countries.
I am not right-wing. I am right-of-center on guns, self-defense, and capital punishment. I am an independent voter and will not join the 2 dominant parties in the USA. I am ideologically opposed to the duopoly they hold, as well as the easy labeling of all political issues as "Left" or "Right" opinions. The label Leftist would apply to many of my views. In some areas I'm borderline Marxist. For instance I take it as a given that we live in a Plutocracy.
It is perfectly fair to say that Sweden and Switzerland are far more Socialist in their policies and laws than the USA is. It's a logical consequence of Socialists having been in power for substantial amounts of time in their countries. There's nothing confusing about their party platforms; they are self-described and they also have a track record of actual accomplishments.
Okay, once again social programs are not social-IST programs. You are confusing two totally separate things.
The semantic issues are not important. The political parties I'm talking about typically have names like "Social Democrat" party, are Left leaning in their policies, enact all kinds of social programs, and redistribute wealth with high taxes. These, IMO, are typically the factors that reduce violence in their societies. They get what they pay for.
Now, since this thread is specifically about *Japanese* society, perhaps we could return to what kinds of government benefits have caused less crime and stress in their society. I seriously doubt it's all due to a lack of guns. Some people in their society do get stressed out enough to, say, fill their subways with Sarin gas.
The semantics are important. When making arguments, it is crucial that you don't use misinformation, inaccuracies and outright falsehoods, otherwise, your argument becomes invalid.
Why should I take anything you say seriously if you clearly have no grasp of what you are saying? The word "redistribute" for instance, is used incorrectly, as is the word "socialist."
Anyway, your system in which anyone can acquire any firearm, anywhere, anytime, does not work as well as you think it does.
Are you going to continue to play word games when what we've been talking about has been firmly established? Or are you going to return to the subject of the thread, Japanese society?
Are you going to continue to evade admitting that you don't know what socialism is?
Words have definitions and meanings. There is no game. You either understand the meaning of a word, or you don't.
This post was modified from its original form on 27 Dec, 14:21
Ok, I agree with someone else said that you're a blowhard. You are not engaging this subject matter in a way that's going to help anyone in the country as far as I am concerned. Winning about the word "Socialism" is more important to you than getting a clear explanation for what I meant, and frankly, what most people in US culture mean by it. All in a thread that's supposed to be about the Japanese. I'm now going to figure out how to automatically ignore your posts. 1st time on Care2. But I've had enough of "Groundhog Day" style argument in the article responses, and I'll be darned if I'm going to sign up for more of the same in this community group.
Fine. And you keep on spreading falsehoods and misinformation, if that's what turns your crank.