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Techie1

BBC: How Japan has almost eradicated gun crime

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Techie1

Japan has one of the lowest rates of gun crime in the world. In 2014 there were just six gun deaths, compared to 33,599 in the US. What is the secret?

If you want to buy a gun in Japan you need patience and determination. You have to attend an all-day class, take a written exam and pass a shooting-range test with a mark of at least 95%.

There are also mental health and drugs tests. Your criminal record is checked and police look for links to extremist groups. Then they check your relatives too - and even your work colleagues. And as well as having the power to deny gun licences, police also have sweeping powers to search and seize weapons.

That's not all. Handguns are banned outright. Only shotguns and air rifles are allowed.

The law restricts the number of gun shops. In most of Japan's 40 or so prefectures there can be no more than three, and you can only buy fresh cartridges by returning the spent cartridges you bought on your last visit.

Police must be notified where the gun and the ammunition are stored - and they must be stored separately under lock and key. Police will also inspect guns once a year. And after three years your licence runs out, at which point you have to attend the course and pass the tests again.

This helps explain why mass shootings in Japan are extremely rare. When mass killings occur, the killer most often wields a knife.

The current gun control law was introduced in 1958, but the idea behind the policy dates back centuries.

"Ever since guns entered the country, Japan has always had strict gun laws," says Iain Overton, executive director of Action on Armed Violence and the author of Gun Baby Gun.

"They are the first nation to impose gun laws in the whole world and I think it laid down a bedrock saying that guns really don't play a part in civilian society."

People were being rewarded for giving up firearms as far back as 1685, a policy Overton describes as "perhaps the first ever gun buyback initiative".

The result is a very low level of gun ownership - 0.6 guns per 100 people in 2007, according to the Small Arms Survey, compared to 6.2 in England and Wales and 88.8 in the US.

"The moment you have guns in society, you will have gun violence but I think it's about the quantity," says Overton. "If you have very few guns in society, you will almost inevitably have low levels of violence."

Japanese police officers rarely use guns and put much greater emphasis on martial arts - all are expected to become a black belt in judo. They spend more time practising kendo (fighting with bamboo swords) than learning how to use firearms.

"The response to violence is never violence, it's always to de-escalate it. Only six shots were fired by Japanese police nationwide [in 2015]," says journalist Anthony Berteaux. "What most Japanese police will do is get huge futons and essentially roll up a person who is being violent or drunk into a little burrito and carry them back to the station to calm them down."

Overton contrasts this with the American model, which he says has been "to militarise the police".

"If you have too many police pulling out guns at the first instance of crime, you lead to a miniature arms race between police and criminals," he says.

To underline the taboo attached to inappropriate use of weapons, an officer who used his gun to kill himself was charged posthumously with a criminal offence. He carried out the act while on duty - policemen never carry weapons off-duty, leaving them at the station when they finish their shift.

The care police take with firearms is mirrored in the self-defence forces.

Journalist Jake Adelstein once attended a shooting practice, which ended with the gathering up of the bullet casings - and there was great concern when one turned out to be missing.

"One bullet shell was unaccounted for - one shell had fallen behind one of the targets - and nobody was allowed to leave the facilities until they found the shell," he says.

There is no clamour in Japan for gun regulations to be relaxed, says Berteaux. "A lot of it stems from this post-war sentiment of pacifism that the war was horrible and we can never have that again," he explains.

"People assume that peace is always going to exist and when you have a culture like that you don't really feel the need to arm yourself or have an object that disrupts that peace."

In fact, moves to expand the role of Japan's self-defence forces in foreign peacekeeping operations have caused concern in some quarters.

"It is unknown territory," says political science professor Koichi Nakano. "Maybe the government will try to normalise occasional death in the self-defence force and perhaps even try to glorify the exercise of weapons?"

According to Iain Overton, the "almost taboo level of rejection" of guns in Japan means that the country is "edging towards a perfect place" - though he points out that Iceland also achieves a very low rate of gun crime, despite a much higher level of gun ownership.

Henrietta Moore of the Institute for Global Prosperity at University College London applauds the Japanese for not viewing gun ownership as "a civil liberty", and rejecting the idea of firearms as "something you use to defend your property against others".

But for Japanese gangsters the tight gun control laws are a problem. Yakuza gun crime has sharply declined in the last 15 years, but those who continue to carry firearms have to find ingenious ways of smuggling them into the country.

"The criminals pack the guns inside of a tuna so it looks like a frozen tuna," says retired police officer Tahei Ogawa. "But we have discovered cases where they have actually hidden a gun inside."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-38365729

 

Probably too late for the police in the UK and US to take this approach, but certainly an interesting article. 

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Growley

To be fair, it seems like overkill. Having to bring back casings to get more ammo would be an absolute pain in the rear.


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Shmook

What growley said.

i pick up mine, but the number of times I've lost a cartridge in long grass/scrub etc would make returning them impractical.

I think we have it right here. Some restrictions I don't agree with, but on the whole it's ok.

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David
1 hour ago, Growley said:

To be fair, it seems like overkill. Having to bring back casings to get more ammo would be an absolute pain in the rear.

Overkill? I think I'd rather have that kind of overkill than the other overkills they have in the US.

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Richhamdo
2 hours ago, Growley said:

To be fair, it seems like overkill. Having to bring back casings to get more ammo would be an absolute pain in the rear.


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Growley, I used to load my own 9mm, I wonder if they can.   I just used factory load for competions because of the expense. I was never short of casings though from other shooters who didn't reload. If I'm honest I didn't have any problem picking up  empty cases  up on the outdoor  range, they were usually pretty close together. However, as @Shmook  pointed out if I was out in the hills "shooting vermin" with .22LR ammo,  it would be a different matter. impossible to pick them all up. I might find the odd one. Maybe this rule is just for full bore (centre fire)   Rich.

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Funkywingnut
1 hour ago, David said:

Overkill? I think I'd rather have that kind of overkill than the other overkills they have in the US.

Lets ban kitchen knives and vehicles, after all more people die on the road than by guns. 

How many times have legal firearms been used in criminal activity?  Hardly ever, criminals don't register firearms. 

We live in a nation of free men, and we should have the choice. 

Edited by funkywingnut
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ParochialYokal

I don't think that Japan's low level of gun crime can be attributed to their tough gun laws alone.

The Japanese are well known for cleaning up after themselves and taking personal responsibility- something that doesn't happen in a lot of other countries. For example, when attend sporting events they will take all their litter with them (remember how they surprised everyone at the World Cup?). So, cleaning up at a gun range probably wouldn't seem as alien to them as it is to us.

The country is more respectful, more compliant and obedient and places greater emphasis on the interests of the wider group above their own. There is significant social stigma attached to drug consumption and crime. The thought of going to prison is incomprehensible. Criminals should repent, as well as be punished.

It is no surprise that Japan has such a low level of gun crime and that is not *just* because of their strict gun laws.

Would our gun crime be lower is we had the same laws? Probably not. Ours are very strict and are nuanced to our particular culture. There isn't a case to make them stricter.


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Growley
Overkill? I think I'd rather have that kind of overkill than the other overkills they have in the US.

Funnily enough, that extreme isn't the only alternative. We don't have anything like that level of restriction here, and we're not exactly living in a war zone.

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Funkywingnut
1 hour ago, Growley said:


Funnily enough, that extreme isn't the only alternative. We don't have anything like that level of restriction here, and we're not exactly living in a war zone.

Agree, more bans on legal firearms won't affect criminal use of illegal firearms. 

 

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obsidian_eclipse

Also, despite the 0.6 per 100 gun ownership and the very few rounds fired they still arm their officers with a service pistol. Where are the arguments about escalation? At least when they do face someone using deadly force they have the option to them - and the trust.

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Funkywingnut
10 minutes ago, obsidian_eclipse said:

Also, despite the 0.6 per 100 gun ownership and the very few rounds fired they still arm their officers with a service pistol. Where are the arguments about escalation? At least when they do face someone using deadly force they have the option to them - and the trust.

Sent from my D2303 using Tapatalk
 

What if you arm police officers with firearms, they don't actually have to keep shooting people, who knew such a thing. 

Absolutely no issue this day in age arming cops, beyond the cost that is. 

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mla

We live in a nation of free men, and we should have the choice. 


At what point have you concluded you are "free"?

I would argue anything but - free as long as you comply with the law!

And on the subject of firearms - in the main, I have personally found that those whom seem to want firearms "for their protection", etc, are the people I'd least like to see get their hands on them! Especially some cops I know, god forbid, every punch-up they'd go to would turn into a firearms job!!
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Goldfgy

It was interesting to read that there is a certain amount of gun smuggling going on. 

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Radman
On 10/01/2017 at 21:25, mla said:

 


At what point have you concluded you are "free"?

I would argue anything but - free as long as you comply with the law!

And on the subject of firearms - in the main, I have personally found that those whom seem to want firearms "for their protection", etc, are the people I'd least like to see get their hands on them! Especially some cops I know, god forbid, every punch-up they'd go to would turn into a firearms job!!

 

The problem with this mindset is generally speaking it's spread by people who don't understand firearms or their application and generally rely heavily on society to get things done. There are very realistic  and dare I say it legitimate reasons for wanting to be armed for defence.

I live in a ruralish area but I'm not out in the sticks, my family on my mothers side however live out in the middle of a small village that is slap bang between two force county borders where your average police response is 30minutes away. These communities tend to look after themselves largely and don't often call the police to matters involving friends or family when someone in a town or city generally would - great for resourcing for the local constabulary not so great when organised gangs are targeting local buisiesses and farmers for their property/livestock, the police response is terrible - so much so that when I drove down through the village on a railway matter a few days in a row I was unwittingly the talk in the local pub because they hadn't seen police in awhile...

People who live in towns and cities think police are going to show up very quickly, we're seeing problems in cities now but the issue is far larger out in the sticks - we live in a society where the vocal tend to get what they want, these people don't generally face the same issues that other folks face in more isolated communities.

It is still every law abiding persons 'right' in this country to legally own a shotgun without really needing a reason to own one, long may this concept reign in my opinion.

Edited by Radman
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Goldfgy

It appears likely that Japan has had little to do to"eradicate" gun crime. With their culture, knife crime seems to be more likely. Their strict regulations would certainly control the law-abiding, but smuggling would be a larger problem if guns were a major part of their culture.

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