Max Fisher: A land without guns — how Japan has virtually eliminated shooting deaths
Our take: In a July 23, 2012 article at The Atlantic, writer Max Fisher explored how, in part by forbidding almost all forms of firearm ownership, Japan has as few as two gun-related homicides in a year.
"What is the role of guns in Japan, the developed world's least firearm-filled nation and perhaps its strictest controller?" the article asked. "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."
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