On January 10, 2017, the British Broadcasting Service published a blog on how Japan has almost eradicated gun violence. It sets forth that in 2014 there were just 6 gun deaths in Japan, compared to 33,599 in the U.S. In 2015 there were 372 mass shootings, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870 in the U.S. according to Mass Shooting Tracker. There were 64 school shootings in 2015. Some 13,286 people were killed in the U.S. by firearms in 2015 and 26,819 people were injured. These figures exclude suicide. Of all the murders in the U.S. in 2012, 60% were by firearms compared with 31% in Canada, 18.2% in Australia and just 10% in the U.K. (BBC-Guns in the U.S: The Statistics Behind the Violence). The death toll between 1968 and 2011 eclipses all wars ever fought by the United States. There were about 1.4 million deaths in that period, compared with 1.2 million deaths in every conflict from the War of Independence to Iraq.
Before you can get a gun in Japan where only shotguns and rifles are allowed, there are mental health and drug tests. You must attend an all-day class, take a written exam, and pass a shooting range test with a mark of at least 95%. Handguns are banned outright. The law restricts the number of gun shops. You can only buy fresh cartridges by returning the spent cartridges bought on your last visit. The police must be notified where the gun and the ammunition are stored-and they must be stored separately under lock and key. The police will inspect guns once a year. Your gun license runs for three years at which point you have to attend the course and pass the tests again.
Japanese police rarely use guns and put much greater emphasis on martial arts. All are expected to become a black belt in judo. They also practice kendo–fighting with bamboo swords. In 2015 only six shots were fired by Japanese police nationwide. If a person is being violent or drunk they will get huge futons and essentially roll up the person who is being violent or drunk and carry them back to the station. The police never carry weapons off-duty, leaving them at the station when they finish their shift. They are required to account for every bullet shell.
The U.S. spends more than a trillion dollars per year defending itself against terrorism which kills a tiny fraction of the number of people killed by ordinary gun crime. According to an article in the L.A. Times, Melissa Healy sets forth that over the last 10 years influenza has claimed on average just short of 33,000 lives a year, motor vehicle accidents just over 35,000 lives each year, and cancer of the urinary system just over 32,000 lives. Gun violence claims an average of about 33,000 lives a year. All but gun violence have a large and active community of medical or public health research, fueled largely by federal funds, exploring ways to reduce or prevent fatalities. In a 1996 funding bill, gun rights advocates and their allies on Capitol Hill forbade the use of any money being appropriated for the Centers of Disease and Control and Prevention “to advocate or promote gun control.” Over the ensuing years, that ban was extended to other agencies, including the National Institute of Health.
The recent shooting in the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting is an example of how the police authorities (FBI and local police) appear to be without a lawful means and/or are powerless to seize a mentally unstable person’s weapon. The shooter told authorities in Alaska he had watched Jihadist videos and they were controlling his mind. Sources quoted the police as saying he clearly stated “he did not intend to harm anyone.” They referred him for a psychiatric evaluation. This former soldier ended up killing five people and injuring eight at the Ft. Lauderdale airport. Last year a man inspired by IS killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL. The FBI had been given information about him prior to the killings. The carnage appears to be rampant as it is constantly being reported by the media.
You might say to yourself there is no chance of gun control because the gun lobby in the U.S. is too powerful. I’m sure the same sort of language of hopelessness was used when the Federal Civil Rights Act was first introduced and later enacted in 1968. The school shootings, mass killings, and senseless killings will continue in the United States as long as there is a proliferation of guns. Congratulations to the Japanese people and their legislators to almost eradicate gun crime in their country.
Please review some of my prior blogs:
Civil Liability for Negligent Storage of Firearms;
Father Faces Prison Sentence for Negligent Storage of His Firearm;
Guns–One of the Leading Causes of Death in Children Under 18 in the United States-Part 1 andPart 2;
Who Should be Held Responsible for a 5-year old killing his 2-year old sister;
Ten-year old Takes Semiautomatic Gun to School.