During 2012, every single hour of every single day at least TWO people died from gun-related incidents in the United States of America (18,000 so far, and counting!). According to the Atlantic, on the other side of the world, Japan is the complete opposite. Thanks to its firm actions, it is almost a gunless society - one which used to be plagued by gun crimes. Yet one cannot get a more successful country than Japan. The stark statistics are that, while the U.S.A suffered 12,000 deaths from firearms in 2008, Japan had only 11.
The article continues:
Almost no one in Japan owns a gun. Most kinds are illegal, with onerous restrictions on buying and maintaining the few that are allowed. Even the country's infamous, mafia-like Yakuza tend to forgo guns; the few exceptions tend to become big national news stories.
To get a gun in Japan, first, you have to attend an all-day class and pass a written test, which are held only once per month. You also must take and pass a shooting range class. Then, head over to a hospital for a mental test and drug test (Japan is unusual in that potential gun owners must affirmatively prove their mental fitness), which you'll file with the police. Finally, pass a rigorous background check for any criminal record or association with criminal or extremist groups, and you will be the proud new owner of your shotgun or air rifle. Just don't forget to provide police with documentation on the specific location of the gun in your home, as well as the ammo, both of which must be locked and stored separately. And remember to have the police inspect the gun once per year and to re-take the class and exam every three years.
Obviously, nothing is left to chance. However, compared to that, 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.”
The United Kingdom also took firmer restrictions on gun ownership after the Dunblane Massacre in 1996. Sixteen children and one adult were killed at Dunblane Primary School in Scotland, one of the worst criminal acts in our history. Even though we are not a gun culture, it was easier for the determined person to get a gun up to 20 years ago. Wikipedia notes: “Public debate subsequent to these events centred on gun-control laws, including media-driven public petitions calling for a ban on private ownership of handguns and an official enquiry, the Cullen Report.” The response to that debate materialised in the form of the Firearms (Amendment) Act in 1997, spearheaded by Prime Minister, Tony Blair. This made private ownership of handguns illegal in the UK.
America’s love/hate relationship with guns appears to spawn two flawed ideologies: The first, that guns actually give far more protection than anything else and, second, if one is also tooled up that will adequately defend the person in the event of an incident. Both highly misguided perceptions, guns neither protect nor defend in the long term. They simply trigger more incidents as people feel the power to use them, and see vulnerable victims, like children, as sitting ducks for target practice. Furthermore if guns really protected people to an effective extent, ipso facto, more people would die in gunless societies, and that is certainly not the case, as the other top 22 countries have demonstrated.
Most important, the idea that once one possesses a gun one can defend one’s self in any crisis is the biggest mistaken notion around guns. We NEVER react in any situation how we THINK we would for a simple reason: when we are thinking about how we would react, we are calmer and more rational. When there is a sudden crisis, the element of surprise overtakes us and we initially become shocked and confused, uncertain of what to do, until we regain our emotional equilibrium to decide what’s best for that moment. It all happens in a split second, but that is enough time for an attacker to do his/her worst before we are also able to draw our weapons. That is why most killings with guns relate to the person who shoots first, like in the Zimmerman case.
As Annie Kalayjian, disaster expert at Fordham University (and founder of MeaningfulWorld.com) said,
"We often fantasize about what we would do or how we would act, and we often feel positive about our ability to handle a crisis when it occurs.Unfortunately, research shows people often don't react as well as they think they will.
"In at least one study, where people were asked to write down how they would react in a fire, follow-up showed that when a fire actually did occur, hardly anyone did what they thought they would do. Most of them”, she says, “panicked and were far more excitable than they predicted.”
That is not surprising given the fact that we have to work out immediately whether we are going to be in fight or flight mode, with our survival uppermost in our minds.
The man who commented on a Vine article, that if the children, these helpless babies, had guns it would have been a different matter, would have disagreed with that research, no doubt. But most awful, and scary, is the fact that he didn’t recognise the utterly sick nature of that comment in a civilised society.
The Huffington Post has revealed 25 sobering statistics relating to guns in America, including these six important ones:
1. 70-80 million Americans own guns (that’s 47% of the adult population. So how do the other 53% - the majority - protect themselves?)
2. 83% of children killed by guns in the 23 wealthiest nations are Americans.
3. $31 billion dollars was the impact of the firearms industry on the economy in 2011
4. There has been a 200% profit for gunmakers since 2008.
5. 96% of the $3 million donated by gun lobbyists during the 2012 election went to the Republicans.
6. 78% of people favoured making the sale of firearms ‘more strict’ in 1990.
Let’s hope this awful tragedy spurs some kind of change in a gun culture that seems to benefit sellers than owners (according to Piers Morgan there are “more than 129,817 federally licensed firearms dealers in America, yet only 26,569 grocery stores”). Otherwise, what on earth will it take to change that cavalier culture of gun dependency, one based mainly on naked fear and personal insecurity than any rational means of protection?