After the tragic, awful, racist mass murder at a church in South Carolina this week, I wish this could be the time we really, truly take a look at gun culture and our continuing oppression of people of color and make some changes to allow us all to be safer, happier, and more free. There has to be a middle ground somewhere between gun ownership and a significant decrease in these types of shootings.
This article from a few years back about the changes Japan made to minimize gun deaths to remarkably small numbers (11 in all of 2008, compared to the US’s 12,000) is an interesting read. I found the paragraph about requirements for owning a gun to be especially interesting. You can still own a firearm there, but first you have to prove you know how to use it safely and are mentally fit to be trusted with one. See:
To get a gun in Japan, first, you have to attend an all-day class and pass a written test, which are held only once per month. You also must take and pass a shooting range class. Then, head over to a hospital for a mental test and drug test (Japan is unusual in that potential gun owners must affirmatively prove their mental fitness), which you’ll file with the police. Finally, pass a rigorous background check for any criminal record or association with criminal or extremist groups, and you will be the proud new owner of your shotgun or air rifle. Just don’t forget to provide police with documentation on the specific location of the gun in your home, as well as the ammo, both of which must be locked and stored separately. And remember to have the police inspect the gun once per year and to re-take the class and exam every three years.
Read the rest: A Land Without Guns: How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths (The Atlantic)