Today (or yesterday, depending), Abe Shinzo was assassinated. Abe Shinzo, for those who don’t know, was a fairly beloved prime minister of Japan for quite a long time. To be honest, that, apart from his name, is the only thing I know about him, so I’ll leave memorialization and mourning for those who knew him better. All murders are awful, of course, but I don’t virtue signal by mourning when I’m not at all affected.
But for me, it is interesting to note that the person who committed the act made the gun that killed him.
There has been quite a spate of gun violence in my country, the USA, recently, and I’ve been honestly kind of torn. While I am generally pro second amendment (meaning that I support the right to keep and bear arms), the fact that so many people have been recently affected by gun violence has given me a bit of pause. It’d be very easy at this point to say “something has to be done”, and I’m not too unsympathetic to those who would say such a thing. I have decided I don’t agree, but I understand the sentiment.
And it’s the assassination of Abe-san that made up my mind.
Japan is an almost perfect example of a society that is gun-free. That’s not to say they don’t have guns, but gun violence is almost unheard of, and they have heavy restrictions on almost everything even tangentially related to guns. You can’t import one, you can’t own one, you can’t even own the ammo.
And yet, someone built a gun and killed the former prime minister.
The simple fact is, that as long as one possesses the knowledge of how a gun works, the horse has already left the barn. You can restrict gun manufacture, gun ownership, ammo ownership, to the point where guns are essentially extinct, and yet, as long as someone can build one, they can still kill someone with a gun. You can’t stamp it out entirely – it’s not possible. If someone wants to kill someone badly enough, they’re going to find a way, and no amount of restrictions on items that could potentially be used for murders is going to stop them.
(And England actually tried. The mayor of London tried to outlaw knives. And that didn’t work).
In the US, there’s a common saying, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”, and it’s exactly right. Guns are simply a tool people use when they’ve already decided to kill someone. You can prevent murders by thwarting the murderer, but that only works some of the time, and other times it won’t work at all – as has been proven time and time again in the US. The heart has to be fixed.
How do we fix the heart?
I don’t know. But it’s clear that whatever the solution is, there is a need for us, and it’s not going to come from within us.
The people of Japan are in an unenviable position right now. This is because, in the US, when a shooting happens, there’s plenty of space for people to say “We need to restrict gun ownership more”. But that wouldn’t work in Japan, because there’s really no way they could restrict gun ownership more. And there’s no rules that could be implemented, in the US or Japan, that would have prevented this assassination. It’s time to go back to the drawing board, and find solutions other than gun control. Because in a sane world, this should put a fork in that argument once and for all. It won’t, but it should.