While the US continues to see a sheer profusion of gun deaths, there’s another country that’s seeing quite the opposite. In 2014, Japan had just SIX gun deaths, compared to 33,599 in the US. Adjusting for population size, the rate in US was .01 gun deaths per person, and .000004 deaths per person in Japan, meaning that the US rate was 2500 times higher than in Japan. What is different about their process of obtainment? It’s certainly much more of an arduous process. Requirements for getting a gun in Japan include attending an all-day class, taking a written exam, passing a shooting-range test, mental health and drug tests, a criminal record check, and police checks for the applicants’ links to extremist groups, along with any possible links from relatives and colleagues.
What else is different? For one, handguns are banned - only shotguns and rifles are allowed. Additionally, the number of gun stores is limited, you have to return used cartridges to get more ammunition, and there’s limits for total amounts of ammunition. While the smaller details may seem impotent, they’re far from it, and an underlying, less blatant message exists: within Japanese society, particularly in Tokyo, there’s a large pressure on conformity and self-control. Carrying out an act of violence is seen as bringing shame on the perpetrator and even their family. This is in stark contrast with the US, where a large, dedicated gun culture persists, and people will defend their gun use in the face of heinous crimes. This is the opposite of glorifying violence - where in many cases, we see gun crimes that still garner support, financially and in media.