a look at modern japan reveals a relatively peaceful, hardworking nation that has not fired a bullet in defense since the last days of ww 2.
this could be a result of the passage of japan’s strict Law Controlling the Possession of Firearms and Swords in 1958, which prohibits the ownership of guns by civilians. even the ownership of hunting firearms is illegal unless those applying for a license submit themselves to invasive procedures: testing the weapon’s safety with a government official at a firing range once a year; a doctor’s note ensuring the owner’s physical and mental health; a visit by police to the neighbors of known gun owners as a secret, preemptive investigation. after airplane hijackings in the 1960s, the possession of replica handguns became illegal. today, even the yakuza are afraid to own guns–simply firing a gun could mean life imprisonment.
the white paper on crime reported that in 2002 there were 158 shootings and 24 deaths, and in 2013 there were 45 shootings and 8 deaths. (33 were yakuza related.) although the numbers are slowly decreasing, even under a stringent law with severe consequences, regulation still does not guarantee safety.
in japan’s early post-war days, a justified public outcry following a horrific shooting eventually lead to today’s gun ban. while the public outcry in the united states following a shooting now feels like a mechanical reaction, no amount of public outcry will influence policy in a way that will satisfy either side, especially since owning guns is every citizen’s right.
amending the constitution is a joke. any proposal to ban guns must be ratified by two-thirds of the house and senate, and then three-fourths of the states must affirm the proposed amendment. the nra alone spent $28 million on donations to political campaigns, while the brady campaign, a gun control group, spent a total of $47,000. the nra is supported by an entire industry, while the brady campaign is supported by a few activists.
president obama has pursued a ban on assault weapons throughout his political career, yet his executive actions on gun control only proposes limiting the availability of assault weapons to congress. (executive actions carry no legal weight; if they do set policy they can be undone by legislation passed by congress. executive orders are legally binding and published in the Federal Register, though they also can be reversed by the courts and congress.) obama’s executive actions do not impact the guns that people currently own, or the guns that are still available for purchase. although this power is specific to the white house, it does not guarantee immediate change, or any change at all.
the president’s successful ban of armor piercing 7N6 ammo in 2014 received little reaction because not many people shot that ammunition. in 2015 obama is moving to ban the popular M855 round, claiming that it could be considered armor piercing because, according to rep. thomas massie (r-ky-4th dist.) “some creative gunsmiths have made pistols using an AR-15 receiver and therefore, now, this ammunition [m855] that heretofore has been okay with us [the feds], is now going to be considered armor piercing.” this is the nra’s campaign finances at work. rep. massie is trying to block the atf and the doj from banning common rifle ammunition, saying that the Obama administration’s tactic is to “ban rifle cartridges that may have been fired in a handgun once.”
this is how gun control deliberation looks. according to the article, if the senate acted before september 30th, 2015, this ban would be effective on october 1st, 2015, the same day that the oregon shooting occurred. no matter the outcome, the shooting would not have been prevented by policy.
but gun control has multiple forms. the first of obama’s executive orders mandate federal agencies supply patient’s medical information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). “Categories of individuals will be prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.” this is the government using regulation to gather legally protected information on civilians, whether or not they have any interest in owning a gun.
while similar laws are considered normal and acceptable ways to provide safety in japan, in the united states people typically consider the regulation in question as brazenly draconian. control and regulation will be slow to create the change that outrage demands but quick to invade the privacy we wish to protect.
at this time, the mainstream media reports that the shooter’s motives are unclear, his numerous blog posts removed from across the internet. any shred of motive deciphered by the public is lost.
gun control will continue to be debated in congress. people will continue to own guns legally. all civilians will continue to be monitored by the government, and gun violence will continue to happen to random people at random times.