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In Nation with Some of Strictest Gun Control Laws on Earth, Former Leader Is Cut Down by Assassin’s Bullet

Japan was supposed to have found the answer to gun violence. The country’s firearm laws are a Democrat’s dream. Handguns and rifles — banned. So are swords. Shotguns are available for hunters and sportsmen, but the licensing process is brutal and involves a rigorous psychological exam and police background checks, as well as intensive classes and exams. The number of guns and gun shops is limited; in Tokyo prefecture, home to 12 million people, only three gun shops are allowed to operate. The country has one of the lowest gun ownership rates in the world. On Wednesday, liberal-leaning Business Insider covered Japan’s hyper-stringent gun control laws enthusiastically, saying these were “steps that can provide a window into what successful gun control looks like.” The Asian nation, it said, is “a country of 127 million people and yearly gun deaths rarely totaling more than 10.” CBS News ran a similar story on Wednesday in the wake of the Highland Park, Illinois, Fourth of July parade shooting that claimed seven lives, touting Japan’s tight gun laws and claiming that “some Americans are looking overseas for ideas on how to prevent mass shootings.” Two days later, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister — Shinzo Abe, whose foreign policy and economic reforms shook up a country beset by stagnancy since an early 1990s recession — was killed after being struck by assassin’s bullets during a speech in western Japan, near Osaka. Abe held the prime minister’s office between 2006 and 2007, and again between 2012 and 2020. (This is yet another example of how gun control arguments always fail when different cultures are compared as if they were the same. That’s not going to stop the left, though. We’re going to keep pointing out the flaws that the mainstream media won’t. You can help us by subscribing.) According to the U.K.’s Guardian, Abe was shot in the chest and neck while he was giving a campaign speech in Nara ahead of upper parliament elections. Japanese media initially reported that Abe showed no vital signs when he was treated at the scene by paramedics; an early dispatch from the Guardian’s Rebecca Ratcliffe quoted an unnamed source who said Abe was in a “state of cardiopulmonary arrest.” “National broadcaster NHK said a suspect, named by police as Tetsuya Yamagami, a 41-year-old resident of Nara, had been taken into custody but provided no further details,” an early Guardian report stated. Later reports filled in more details: “Japanese media has reported that he had been a member of the maritime self defense force for about three years, until around 2005. He told police he was frustrated with Abe and intended to kill him, according to national broadcaster NHK.” As of 4:30 p.m. Japanese time, Abe was still reported as alive but in critical condition. “Currently doctors are doing everything they can, at this moment. I am hoping and praying that former prime minister Abe will survive this,” said current Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kushida. Just before 6 p.m. local time, however, NHK confirmed Abe had died of his injuries. How, then, did the suspect get the gun that struck down Abe? After all, we’re told potential gun owners must have a reason to own a firearm — and if they do, they have to pass rigorous background checks that involve, among other things, interviews with relatives. The answer, at least at this early hour, seems to be that the assailant or an associate made the weapon himself: “A photograph showed two cylindrical metal parts that appeared to have been heavily bound with black tape lying on the road near the scene,” the Guardian reported. Certainly, gun-control advocates would posit, the assailant would have had an easier time of it if he could just walk into any store and buy a firearm. That argument doesn’t hold water, though — if just because Japan is, by its very nature, an assiduously rule-abiding society with a strong police presence to ensure legal conformity, almost to a fault, among those who don’t personally embrace it. A 2018 article in The Irish Times provided a concise sketch of the dual farce that is a) the lack of real crime in Japan and b) the misplaced zeal given over to investigating what little crime there is. “Petty drugs offense are treated with forensic rigor,” the outlet reported. “Police have arrested athletes, rock stars and university students for smoking pot. One woman recalls five officers crowding into her cramped apartment after she reported her knickers being swiped from a clothesline. “As they run out of things to do, however, police are becoming more inventive about what constitutes a crime, says Kanako Takayama, a professor of criminal law at Kyoto University. In one recent case, she says, they arrested a group of people who had shared the fees for a rented car because they judged it was an illegal taxi. “Critics who fret about over-enthusiastic police cite a week-long stakeout in 2016, in Kyushu, southwest Japan. Five officers watched over a case of beer in an unlocked car outside a supermarket in Kagoshima, scene of a series of car robberies, before pouncing on the hapless middle-aged man who eventually helped himself.” That case was dismissed by a judge who was apparently unimpressed by law enforcement’s absurd entrapment scam. To say that outcome was the exception to the rule is an acute understatement, however; 99.9 percent of criminal cases in Japan result in convictions. The few firearms cases that come before the court usually have some involvement with the yakuza, Japan’s organized crime syndicates. Even then, the numbers are stunningly low: 21 firearms cases were brought in 2020, 12 of which were gang-related, according to the Guardian. This isn’t for lack of policing, as we’ve already noted. One could easily take away from the fact that Japan is a country where even the violent organized criminal element mostly follows the country’s strict gun laws — despite having little reason to, being organized criminals and all. The question practically asks itself, then: If Japan were granted Second Amendment rights tomorrow and the country was suddenly flooded with Glocks and long guns, what would change? Should we pretend Osaka would look like Chicago on a particularly bloody weekend if Japanese citizens had a right to concealed carry? In a country where the police practically had to beg citizens to steal beer, are we to pretend that Tokyo’s restrictive gun policies provide “steps that can provide a window into what successful gun control looks like” for us? One perfervidly wishes not to reduce Shinzo Abe’s death to an argument about our Second Amendment, but the tragic events of Friday shone a light on the terminal flaw in the media’s effusive praise for Japan’s gun control regulations just days ago. It isn’t that Japan has few gun deaths because officialdom doesn’t tolerate guns, it’s because they’re a culture that doesn’t tolerate crime, period. Gun rights advocates in America have always held that, if a criminal desperately wants to commit a crime with a gun or a deadly weapon, a more comprehensive web of laws isn’t going to stop them. In Japan, in a society where almost nobody would dream of stepping out of line and committing murder, one of the very few individuals who would still found a way to do it — gun prohibition be damned. Funny, though: You can almost guarantee the same journalists who were busy teaching us lessons about the successes of Japanese gun control on Wednesday won’t learn anything from what unfolded Friday. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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