Japan is a country where gun regulations are strict and shootings are exceedingly rare. Abe, who resigned due to health issues in 2020, was fatally shot in broad daylight Friday while speaking at a campaign rally in the city of Nara. The police detained a suspect and retrieved a gun at the scene that appears to be homemade.
In Japan guns are “the exception, not the rule.” Rates of gun ownership and gun violence in Japan are among the lowest in the world, and stand in stark contrast to those of the U.S. Abe’s killing is “almost incomprehensible” in a country with a firearm death rate of 0.01 per 100,000 and an even lower homicide rate, wrote Iain Overton, the executive director of British NGO Action on Armed Violence, in a blog post, Friday.
For example: Just one person was killed by gun violence in Japan in 2021, according to the country’s National Police Agency. The Gun Violence Archive recorded 45,034 U.S. firearm deaths that same year.
“With its long tradition of gun control measures, and low homicides by firearm rates, this shooting will then not only rock Japan because of the high profile of the victim, but also because of the rarity of the event,” he wrote. Japan was the first nation in the world to impose gun laws, according to Overton.
It takes roughly 12 steps to buy a gun in Japan:
1) Join hunting or shooting club
2) Take a firearm class
3) Pass a written exam, as well as a shooting-range test with at least 95% accuracy
4) Get a doctor’s note stating you are mentally fit and have no history of drug dependency
5) Apply to take a full-day course in how to safely fire and store a gun
6) Complete a police interview explaining why you want a firearm
7) Pass a rigorous background check in which police review your criminal record, employment history, financial status and relationships with family, friends and neighbors
8) Apply for a gunpowder permit
9) Obtain a certificate from a gun dealer describing the gun you want
10) Buy a gun safe and ammunition locker that meet safety regulations
11) Allow the police to inspect your gun storage and conduct another background check
12) Once someone is finally able to buy a gun, they must register it with the police and provide them with details of how they will store both their weapon and ammunition in separate, locked compartments. Going forward, police must inspect the gun annually and the owner must retake the class and a license renewal exam every three years. And not only are the regulations strict, they are strictly enforced. In addition, many of Japan’s more than 40 prefectures have limits on the number of gun shops that can operate within each jurisdiction. Most are limited to no more than three gun stores, and only allow people to buy fresh rounds after returning the used ones they bought at their last visit.
In America, it is possible for someone to buy a gun in less than an hour once they pass an instant background check.
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