The baby’s fingers had been broken during the shooting from his mother shielding him from the gun fire. The baby had been discharged but brought back to the hospital for the photo op by the baby’s uncle (pictured on the left).
Japan’s success in curbing gun deaths is intimately linked with its history. Following World War II, pacifism emerged as one of the dominant philosophies in the country. Police only started carrying firearms after American troops made them, in 1946, for the sake of security. It’s also written into Japanese law, as of 1958, that “no person shall possess a firearm or firearms or a sword or swords.”
If Japanese people want 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.
Japan has also embraced the idea that fewer guns in circulation will result in fewer deaths. 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.
“My wife has been killed by a machine which should never have come into the hands of any human being. It is called a firearm. It makes the blackest of all human wishes come true at once, at a distance: that something die.
There is evil for you.
We cannot get rid of mankind’s fleetingly wicked wishes. We can get rid of the machines that make them come true.
This is Jim Pace. In 2016 he ran for the house seat in Georgia’s 3rd congressional district but lost. In a debate he said “If you know how many guns you have, you don’t have enough.” I think about this quote and line of thinking often on days like today.