The following words were written by Max Fisher on July 23, 2012 in The Atlantic. To be sure 2012 is some time ago to be quoting an article, but what has changed.
America's gun control laws are the loosest in the developed world and its rate of gun-related homicide is the highest. Of the world’s 23 “rich” countries, the U.S. gun-related murder rate is almost 20 times that of the other 22. With almost one privately owned firearm per person, America’s ownership rate is the highest in the world; tribal-conflict-torn Yemen is ranked second, with a rate about half of America's.
But what about the country at the other end of the spectrum? What is the role of guns in Japan, the developed world's least firearm-filled nation and perhaps its strictest controller? 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.
The previous two paragraphs written by Max Fisher and quoted by me are quite astounding on the face but let’s look at why these differences may exist.
Japan was originally a country with many kingdoms and tribes; however, from the Fourth through the Ninth Century, these all coalesced to form a central government controlled by an emperor. That later broke down and continued to be ruled by multiple clans, families, and shoguns, eventually culminating in an emperor again ruling.
Early in Japan’s history different shoguns passed laws forbidding the ownership of guns and swords. These multiple restrictions became much stricter following WWII and multiple amendments to laws since that time have made gun ownership much more difficult.
In the years from 2005 through 2011 there were only 66 people killed by guns compared to 219,777 in the United States.
Here is my interpretation: I think a government that does not want its citizens to own firearms is trying to protect its rulers from the people. We in America own firearms because the people need protection from our government.
This might be comparing apples to oranges; however, the marked differences in gun deaths between Japan and United States probably bears at least a close look by our officials to determine better ways to handle the problem. Several hundred accidental deaths occur each year in our country by unintended discharge of a firearm. Fifty-one percent of all suicides are committed with firearms. How important is it that all our citizens own firearms? I don’t think we will ever legally take away firearms in our country.
Perhaps we could pass a law that is more palatable to everyone and make it against the law to have guns without safety hardware that makes it impossible to fire without the owners key.
God bless you all from the Maverick Doctor,
Rick R. Redalen, M.D.
Pick up a copy of my book “God’s Tiniest Angel and the Last Unicorn,” available on Amazon.
Dr. Rick is a retired American physician, entrepreneur and philanthropist who has done mission work around the country and around the world. He is now on a mission to improve healthcare in America. Visit maverickdoctor.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.