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Japan vs U.S. — Can stricter gun laws reduce shooting deaths?

By Nancy Houser     Dec 16, 2012 in Crime
Intense debates in the United States revolve around how strict firearm regulations should be. Currently, the U.S. leads the world on gun violence, yet support for tougher gun laws is like a yo-yo - unlike Japan and their strict gun laws.
Considered "an island without guns," Japan's shooting homicides have dropped dramatically since stronger gun enforcement laws have been put into effect. In 2008, Japan had only 11 homicides as compared to 9,484 in the United States. As incidents of U.S. gun violence in 'gun-free' school zones grow, more demands for stricter gun control will be debated. Wikipedia reports that previously, "Support for gun control in America had been steadily dropping. The American public strongly opposed attempts to ban gun ownership, and was divided on attempts to limit gun ownership."
In a Dave Kopel article, "For many Japanese, and for many Americans, it is simply incomprehensible that the United States has not implemented strict gun controls or prohibitions along the Japanese model." As an example, it is easier to purchase a gun in the United States than in any other industrialized nation, which could explain the United State's high numbers of gun homicides.
Police respond to a school shooting in Newton Connecticut
Police respond to a school shooting in Newton Connecticut
Victims of the Newton, Connecticut/Facebook
After Friday’s incident in Newtown, Connecticut, with massive school shootings that claimed the lives of 28, including 20 six-year and seven-year-old first graders, Washington Post reports that President Obama called for “meaningful action to prevent future tragedies. Regardless of the politics." However, it is clear that gun-control advocates want more from the government, which will make the gun control debates even more combustionable. The nation is already launching into an increasingly bitter argument over gun control laws.
The words "meaningful action" have many Americans up in arms even though President Obama used cautionary wordage. Included in this list is New York City's (R) Mayor Michael Bloomberg, head of the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
As White House gun control petitions plead with President Obama for tighter laws, many are taking a good look at tight gun controls in Japan and their low shooting deaths. Not a new thing for Japan, 1600s saw restrictive gun controls ensured to "almost total prohibition of firearms." Today, gun licensing is required and is heavily regulated by Japan's National Police Agency, :
* No-one in Japan shall possess a fire-arm or fire-arms or a sword or swords, and very few exceptions are allowed.
* The only types of firearms which a Japanese citizen may acquire are rifles or shotguns.
* Sportsmen are permitted to possess rifles or shotguns for hunting and for skeet and trap shooting, but only after submitting to a lengthy licensing procedure.
* Without a license, a Japanese citizen may not even hold a gun in his or her hands.
* Shotguns and rifles for hunting or sports may be possessed upon completion of a licensing procedure that requires a police background check, successful completion of a safety course, passing of shooting, written, and psychological tests, and police verification of secure storage, prior to approval being granted by the police to purchase a firearm.
* Fully automatic weapons are restricted to military and police. Gun owners must take a class once a year and pass a written test.
The Japanese homicide rate, for example, in 1988 was only 1.2 per 100,000 people while America's was a horrifying 8.4. Handgun Control, Inc. attributes Japan's low homicide rate to their outlawing the civilian ownership of handguns and rifles, and severely controlling shotguns.
Wikipedia reports that "in 2008, the former ruling Liberal Democratic Party, in response to violent crimes by minors and gangsters, has called for rewriting the constitution to include even further stringent firearms control measures. In January 2008 Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda in a policy speech called for tighter regulations on firearms.
Japanese police
Japanese police
The Telegraph
Gun Policy reports that in a comparison of the rate of private gun ownership in 179 countries, Japan ranked at No. 164. Meanwhile, the defense forces of Japan are reported to have 737,500 firearms and the police in Japan are reported to have 336,000 firearms.
Unfortunately, the Japanese people have given up not only their guns but their personal rights and self-respect. The right of privacy, the right of self-determination, and the rights of unreasonable search and seizure are non-existent as the Japanese police can search any home without warrant. A government record is kept by Japanese police with what is found within the homes, placing a black mark on their record if the item is illegal, such as the magazine Playboy.
According to a recent Gallup Poll, gun ownership is much higher among Republicans than Democrats. "Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to report owning a gun, and are also more likely to say they use their gun for hunting." This explains why Democrats have supported stricter gun control with a 70% to 7% majority.
However, in the past couple of years these numbers have stabilized and declined with most citizens, yet with over 50% of people favoring stricter gun laws after the Tucson, Arizona, shootings that involved Senator Gabby Gifford.
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