A Land Without Guns: How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths

Posted By Levi

December 17th, 2012 7:49pm

Category: Guns

The United States is the country with the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world. (The second highest is Yemen, where the rate is nevertheless only half that of the U.S.)

No civilian population is more powerfully armed.

Of the world’s 23 “rich” countries, the U.S. gun-related murder rate is almost 20 times that of the other 22.

Let’s take a look at Japan. In 2008, the U.S. had over 12,000 firearm-related homicides. Japan had 11.

How do they do it? Max Fisher at the Atlantic has some interesting details.

• Almost no one in Japan owns a gun. Most kinds are illegal, with onerous restrictions on buying and maintaining the few that are allowed.

• 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.

• 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.

• Americans have the 2nd Amendment that gives them the right to own guns.  Japanese law says ”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.

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