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Comparison of Gun Control Systems: US and Japan

3946 words (16 pages) Essay in Social Policy

08/02/20 Social Policy Reference this

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Gun control is an argument that is very controversial and debatable in the United States. For example, a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado was showing the movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” and the shooter, James Holmes, shot up the theater (CNN Library). Due to this, it persuaded many people to support gun control (CNN Library). However, others still regard the second amendment of the United States, which states, “… the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed” (U.S. Constitution. Amend. II). This one amendment stops government officials from doing anything serious because it is part of the Constitution. The government should implement stricter gun control laws.

“The U.S. Constitution and most state Constitutions guarantee the right to bear arms, but the courts have ruled that this right may be strictly controlled” (Court Rulings). When laws like this are challenged, the government is able to change and review the 2nd Amendment of the United States (Baldwin). Because of this, the government is allowed put as many restrictions as they want on the “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” (U.S. Constitution. Amend. II).

Elena Andreyeva and Benjamin Ukert, two public health researches the University of Pennsylvania, suggest to follow Australia’s strict gun regulations. Their 2017 project found that Australia reduced firearm mortality by an astonishing 60% (Garfield). The National Futures Association or the NFA requires Australians to wait 28 days before they can buy a gun. The NFA completes a thorough background check on the person. “If it’s hard to buy guns legally, in crimes driven by passion as opposed to preplanned acts, [the regulation] would have a larger effect,” Andreyeva said (Garfield). “If I want to commit a mass shooting and I come to the store to buy a gun, but I’m told I have to wait 28 days, I might change my mind completely” (Garfield). The NFA requires Australians to obtain a permit and be 18 years of age, and must provide a reason for the purchase of the gun (Garfield). Australians must provide documentation about how and where the gun will be stored (Garfield). This is not the case, however in the United States (Garfield). It is a lot easier to purchase a gun in the United States (Garfield). Hundreds of stores sell guns in stores such as Walmart and Dicks Sporting Goods (Garfield). You must be 18 years of age to purchase a rifle or shotgun or 21 years of age to purchase a handgun (Wheeler)‌. Gun buyers in the U.S are required to fill out a form from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives or ATF (Smith). When filling out the form, a social security number is optional, and less than 1% of the time, people are denied (Smith). According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 100 million background checks have been made per year. Only 700 thousand have been denied (Smith). Background checks only take a few minutes in the United States (Smith). The United States of America should consider implementing the same strategies as Australia.

The United States should also consider Japan as an alternative solution for stricter gun control. In Japan, if people wanted to own a gun:

They must attend an all-day class, pass a written test, and achieve at least 95% accuracy during a shooting-range test. Then they have to pass a mental-health evaluation, which takes place at a hospital, and pass a background check, in which the government digs into their criminal record and interviews friends and family. They can only buy shotguns and air rifles — no handguns — and every three years they must retake the class and initial exam. (Weller)

The basic framework of Japan’s approach to gun ownership is the opposite of the United States:

U.S. gun law begins with the second amendment’s affirmation of the “right of the people to keep and bear arms” and narrows it down from there. Japanese law, however, starts with the 1958 act stating that “No person shall possess a firearm or firearms or a sword or swords,” later adding a few exceptions. In other words, American law is designed to enshrine access to guns, while Japan starts with the premise of forbidding it. The history of that is complicated, but it’s worth noting that U.S. gun law has its roots in resistance to British gun restrictions, whereas some academic literature links the Japanese law to the national campaign to forcibly disarm the samurai, which may partially explain why the 1958 mentions firearms and swords side-by-side. (Fisher)

The United States and Japan are different in many ways such as traditional and historical differences and it’s much more than gun policies. In order to have a small circulation of guns in Japan:

Each prefecture — which ranges in size from half a million people to 12 million, in Tokyo — can operate a maximum of three gun shops; new magazines can only be purchased by trading in empty ones; and when gun owners die, their relatives must surrender the deceased member’s firearms. (Weller)

The Japanese police force barely even touch their guns and put a greater importance on martial art (Low). All police officers must have a black belt (Low). They spend more time practicing kendo, a type of fighting with bamboo swords, than learning how to use firearms (Low). “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” (qtd. in Low).

David Hemenway, professor of health policy at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, states that every year, 2.5 million people have guns to defend themselves or their property (Do Guns Make Us Safer?). Hemenway also states that there isn’t any evidence to prove whether that guns used to defend people can prevent any injury (Do Guns Make Us Safer?). There could be a way to reduce property damage, “but the evidence is equally compelling that having another weapon, such as mace or a baseball bat, will also reduce the likelihood of property loss,” he said (Do Guns Make Us Safer?). Hemenway also noted that the presence of more guns does make crimes more violent (Guns Don’t Make Society Safer). “What guns do is make hostile interactions—robberies, assaults—much more deadly” (Do Guns Make Us Safer?).

Hemenway additionally conducted another research which polled 150 scientists on their opinions of gun control (Guns Don’t Make Society Safer). According to his research, an astounding 84% of the scientists said that having a gun in the home increases the risk of suicide (Guns Don’t Make Society Safer). Seventy-two percent said that a gun in the home increases the risk of women being a victim of homicide (Guns Don’t Make Society Safer). Sixty-four percent said that having a gun around you in the house makes it a dangerous place (Guns Don’t Make Society Safer).

Gun homicides bring a great deal of attention, but most gun deaths are the result of suicide. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control said that 22,938 people committed suicide by firearm, while 14,415 people died in gun homicides (Matthews). By making gun control a lot stricter, suicide can be prevented. According to Washington Post, 50% of Americans who commit suicide do it with a gun (Soffen). For suicide, guns are faster and more fatal than any other suicide method (Soffen). According to E. Michael Lewiecki, a professor at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, “If you have an impulse for suicide and you have easy access to a gun, you’re very likely to be successful at committing suicide. But if access to that means is not there, then the impulse may pass,” (qtd. in Soffen).

The United States boasts the highest rate of gun violence against women. Domestic violence affects millions of women (Guns and Domestic Violence). Domestic abusers that have guns in their hands can turn into murderers. “The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that the woman will be killed” (Guns and Domestic Violence). The lethal mix of guns and domestic violence is worsened by America’s weak gun laws. In the United States, women are 16 times more likely to be shot and killed than any other country (Guns and Domestic Violence). Every year, there are 5.3 million gun related domestic violence to women (Guns and Domestic Violence). Every month, at least 50 women are killed due to the combination of guns and domestic violence (Guns and Domestic Violence). Roughly, eight billion dollars is due each year due to medical, costs related to gun and domestic violence are estimated at over. That amount doesn’t even include other costs such as criminal justice or legal fees (Guns and Domestic Violence).

Gun violence takes a huge toll on American children and teenagers. Roughly 3,000 children and teens are shot and killed every year (The Impact of Gun Violence). Almost 16,000 are killed per year. The second leading cause of child and teen death is gun violence (The Impact of Gun Violence). Three million children in the United States witness gun violence every year (The Impact of Gun Violence). Due to gun violence, many children have a lot of trouble learning and getting along with people in school. Children are more likely to start doing crime and start using drugs and alcohol (The Impact of Gun Violence on American Children). This is another reason gun control should be stricter.

The AR-15 is one of the most commonly used guns in mass shootings (Leduc) The AR-15 is categorized as an assault weapon. “Assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are commonplace in mass shootings and make shootings more lethal” (Assault Weapons). The United States implementing stronger gun control can reduce mass shootings and daily shootings. Assault weapons are very dangerous and guns with a high capacity are even more dangerous because it takes longer to reload a gun (Assault Weapons). “A study of mass shooting incidents between 1981 and 2017 found that assault rifles accounted for 86 percent of the 501 fatalities reported in 44 mass shooting incidents” (Assault Weapons). The state of Virginia banned assault rifles in 2004. Casualties reduced to just 10% (Assault Weapons). When the prohibition expired, the percentage jumped to 22% by 2010 (Assault Weapons). This is one way the United States can implement stricter gun laws.

There has been a huge increase in gun violence, but accidental shooting deaths have also spiked up. “Of the 489 people killed in accidental shootings in 2015, more than 85% were male, and nearly 27% of those were between 15 and 24. The rate for that group — five deaths per 100,000 people — was more than triple the national average. Men between 25 and 34 were the next-most vulnerable group” (Lee). The youth are mostly killed by other youth. The shooter is usually a friend or could be a family member (Accidents). It’s unlikely for older adults to get shot accidentally (Accidents). Research says that the reason of accidentals is because of improper storage (Lee). Fourteen out of 50 states in the United States have laws which hold improper storage of guns as a criminal offense (Lee). The government should consider making improper storage illegal(Lee). This is a step towards stricter gun control. In Hawaii and Massachusetts, a person could face criminal charges even if the gun is unloaded and “In California, a law signed by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown in 2013 made it a third-degree misdemeanor to knowingly store a loaded firearm in a place where an unsupervised child could have access to it” (Lee). These are just some ways the US could implement stricter gun laws to prevent accidental deaths.

Other states have enacted additional laws to make gun control stricter such as Maryland. The state of Maryland passed a gun violence prevention law, becoming one of six of states to get behind little-known measures that could save hundreds of lives called The Public Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2018 (Wing). “The bill sets aside $5 million in the coming year to fund grants for programs that have been effective at making violence-stricken neighborhoods more peaceful” (Wing). There are only six states that fund gun violence prevention which include Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, New York, Illinois and Maryland (Wing). According to a recent report by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the listed states have been making tremendous improvement (Wing). There have been declines in shootings and violent crimes (Wing). The government should consider something similar to this act to have stricter gun control.

Due to a weak gun law system, every year people pay the government almost 230 billion dollars in taxes due to gun violence. “[Twelve point eight] million dollars in taxes every year to cover the costs of gun-related deaths and injuries, according to a new report released by Mother Jones on the cost of gun violence in America” (Bertrand). Keeping people in jail because of a gun-related crime makes the government and taxpayers pay more than $5.2 billion annually, and medical treatment cost hospitals at least five million dollars a year (Bertrand). Victims of gun violence injuries so severe that they require frequent care for the rest of their lives (Bertrand). Mental health care costs around 410 million dollars, and a ride to the hospital costs $583,000 a year (Bertrand). Since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, the federal government has paid a total of $811 million dollars to prevent mass shootings (Bertrand). “…purchasing police officers’ time to practice “active-shooter” drills, and testing out “active-shooter detection” systems that costs as much as $100,000” (Bertrand). Research says that school security systems could be a, “$5-billion-a-year industry” (Bertrand).

The police also have a lot of work to do as well. When a gunman opened fire at a shopping complex near Portland, Oregon in December 2012:

More than 150 officers from at least 13 local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies responded. The investigation that lasted more than three months and culminated in a report nearly 1,000 pages long… (Bertrand)

The very long investigations are paid by taxpayers.

Another area of concern is the number of mass shootings that take place at schools. This can be prevented:

“Many would require schools to look externally and internally to build strong partnerships inside of schools and in the community as a whole. Schools should work in partnerships with local governments, labor, management and the community, to help become places that provide valuable services that help lift students and their families (By moving beyond the normal confines of the school and partnering with local stakeholders, community schools provide real solutions to the unique problems of the students and families they serve. (Keeping Our Schools Safe)”

 This can prevent many mass shootings in schools. A person shoots up a school because that shooter is traumatized because of, “dysfunctional families, poverty, abuse in the home, a number of them were sexually abused outside the home, parents are poor, kids bounce around between mom to dad to grandma, sometimes they are in and out of foster care, there is no stability” (Inside the Mind of School Shooters). The anger and unhappiness builds and the person just wants to let go of it all (Inside the Mind of School Shooters). The person wants to forget everything (Inside the Mind of School Shooters)

Many states want to arm teachers so there would be some type of protection against school shooters (Arming Teachers). Arming teachers increases the risks posed to children (Arming Teachers). The United States should not implement this to make gun laws stricter because students must be aware where and how guns are kept in school (Arming Teachers). There could be a day when a teacher may use the gun for other purposes than protecting students. “A recent study shows that the majority of children are aware of where their parents store their guns, and more than one third reported handling their parents’ guns—40 percent of them doing so without the knowledge of their parents” (Arming Teachers). The risk of death by suicide is tripled if there is access to a firearm (Arming Teachers). For example, a student may feel sad and may want to hurt themselves or others. The student could grab the gun from a teacher’s desk or hiding spot and shoot. The school should do everything they can to reduce the probability of shooting in schools, and should focus to keep all weapons off school. The goal is to make school safer, not more treacherous. The government should terminate this idea and focus on measures that will create the safe and supportive learning environments children deserve (Arming Teachers)

  Many people who are against gun control say, “Guns are tools that can kill, just like knives, and we’re not banning knives are we?” (Weindlng). Las Vegas provided the clearest indication yet of how preposterous that quote is. Guns are different. They can’t be used to chop vegetables like knives (Weindlng). Guns are different from other items because their primary purpose and their lethality are one and the same. Gun advocates say, “Well, heart disease kills way more people a year—600,000–why don’t people focus on regulating cheeseburgers?” or, “cars kill 30,000 people a year too–why don’t we get rid of all cars?” (Weindlng) The answer is that we do regulate cars and the FDA to approves meat and make sure it’s safe to try to prevent their related deaths, but we do it with a logical relationship to their primary purpose and their immediate lethality (Weindlng). Guns and knives could both be used to kill people, but one is a lot easier to use (Weindlng). 

People must consider the implementing similar technologies such as “fingerprint scanners to PIN codes and RFID chips” (Gun Violence Must Stop). Just as cars continue to have new safety measures embedded in the technology, there are ongoing developments to increase the safety of guns and gun storage that require further analysis to assess effectiveness (Gun Violence Must Stop).

Firearms are used as protection. By the end of the 20th century, the use of guns has changed significantly. Trying to reduce the crime in the United States has been a very fiercely debated issue in recent years. Urban centers and some suburban communities of America are setting new records for homicides by handguns. Guns are closely connected to drugs in the public mind. Mainly, guns of crime are used by gang members. Many police officers are murdered every year due to incidents involving guns. In conclusion, there are many reasons why people disagree with gun control. It is compulsory so there can be limits on the way that firearms are used. If stricter gun control laws went through, there would be a big decline in gun related deaths and crimes.

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