Gun control measures are a subject of global controversy.
Each time the news reports a mass shooting, there is a knee jerk reaction calling for stricter gun control across the country.
Each country makes its own laws regarding gun control with measures differing from country to country.
Gun control around the world
In America, carrying firearms for self-defense is considered part of the responsibility of being a citizen.
Compare this to Japan where the restrictions are stringent and have been since the 1600s and very few people carry guns. By comparison, mass shootings have all but been eliminated.
In Zimbabwe, civilians are not allowed semi-automatic weapons. In South Africa, people were given an amnesty to hand in their legal firearms or to go through a lengthy process to keep their guns and undergo training in the use of the firearm. Many legal gun owners chose to hand them in, but illegal gun ownership is rife.
Canada allows firearms only for competitions and target practice, but handguns are illegal unless they are necessary for self-defense.
The United Kingdom has banned handguns. Firearms are only allowed for hunting, pest control, target shooting, and slaughtering animals, with appropriate permits. Germany is also quite firm with applicants for gun licenses having to be 18 years of age or older and show good reason for the need to possess the firearm.
The gun control lobbyists come out in force each time another mass shooting occurs, particularly in the US, but it is interesting to note that the US is not top of the list for mass shootings.
While there were 340 mass shootings (of four or more casualties) in America in 2018, America ranks 66th per capita according to World Population Review’s Mass Shootings by Country. In terms of overall numbers, however, the US has more mass shootings than any other country. Countries with higher mass shooting rates per capita include Russia, Finland, Norway, France and Switzerland.
The anti-gun legislation lobbyists say that if people are armed, they can defend themselves and the result will be safer communities. That way, they argue, one person would not be able to kill or maim dozens of people on a rampage, because someone who had a legal firearm and knew what they were doing would be able to ‘neutralize’ the threat.
What is clear is that the countries with the strictest gun control laws like Japan do have the least gun fatalities per capita.
Do we need stricter gun control?