Shortly after a twenty-one-year-old killed nine people in a South Carolina church this week, President Obama stated that the USA is the only advanced nation that has this problem, this social disease of gun violence. As you would expect, he received a ton of pushback from the NRA (whose solution is to arm everyone) and the GOP (whose solution is to ignore the problem), but Obama is correct. America has the loosest gun control laws in the developed world, and—no surprise—has the highest gun-related homicides. Of the world’s 23 most developed countries, the U.S. gun-related murder rate is 20 times that of the other 22 countries combined.
Japan has virtually eliminated shooting deaths. How you ask? Simple, by forbidding almost all forms of firearm ownership, and the results are impressive, as few as two gun-related homicides a year. That compares to over 30,000 deaths a year in the USA.
Seriously, 2 vs. 30,000 deaths.
Admittedly, Japan has a smaller population, and because Japan doesn’t have a wide mix of different races, they have few, if any, race related shootings. But the percentage of wing-nuts in Japan is not lower that the USA. So with their fair share of crazies, why only two gun-related deaths per year? Because no private citizen in Japan owns guns.
If you fire off a round from a handgun in Japan you break three different laws—one for holding a handgun, one for possessing unlicensed bullets, and one for firing the bullets. Just holding a handgun is punishable by one to ten years in prison. Handguns and small-caliber rifles have been illegal to buy or sell in Japan since 1971.
Japan and the U.S. have radically opposed views about crime, privacy, and police powers. The U.S. constitution’s second amendment is intended in part to maintain “the security of a free State” by ensuring that the government doesn’t have a monopoly on force, where as many people see Japan’s laws on gun control, search, and seizure to be more of a police state.
But in the end, are thirty thousands lives lost every year worth having the ability to take arms against our government? Only last night a gun fired in the street in front of my mother’s house shot a bullet through her kitchen wall and shattered the sliding glass door on the opposite side of the room. My mother lived in fear every time she left her house, now she lives in fear even when she is in the house. Is every American living in fear, twenty-four-seven, worth having the means of fighting our own government? Our government is not the enemy, killers with guns are.
Seriously, my friends and colleagues, it’s time to enact serious gun restrictions in this country, because that next bullet might have your name on it, or the name of a loved one. Let’s not live in constant fear. Let’s disarm the people who don’t need guns, which in my view is everyone excluding the police and military.