By Taylor Rice and Grace Zani
Over the years, America has created many laws to help reduce the amount of gun violence. Each year, these laws fail to reduce gun violence in today’s society. America continues to face countless crimes involving guns, as well as school shootings. Many of these acts of violence could have been prevented if the United States had more efficient gun laws or if the country implemented laws that were successful in other countries.
Although America has established multiple gun laws to decrease the amount of gun violence, “[m]ore than 30,000 people are killed by firearms each year in this country” and “[m]ore than 30 people are shot and murdered each day”. Many other countries face far fewer deaths caused by guns each year, so what is America doing wrong that these other countries are doing right?
One of the most efficient gun laws implemented is in Australia, who has not had a mass shooting since 1996. In 2012, Australia had only 40 gun homicides because their restrictions, “banned all automatic and semi-automatic weapons” and a, “buyback program” was also implemented, “where people were paid for turning in newly illegal automatic and semi-automatic rifles”. Thousands of guns were turned in voluntarily and those individuals were compensated for it as well, which allows satisfaction for both the country and its people. In 2012, Canada had only 173 homicides by guns, whereas the U.S. alone had 9,146 that year. Canada is able to maintain lower amounts of homicides than the U.S. due to its strict gun license and registration laws. To legally obtain a gun in Canada, “residents must take a safety course and pass both a written and a practical exam”. Once one applies for a license after the exam, a required background check that focuses on mental health takes place. Then, before one is granted a license to own a gun, an agent is required, “to inform an applicant’s spouse or family”. Once the background check is passed and a license is acquired, only then can a gun be obtained. The license, which expires five years after passing the exam and other requirements, needs to be reobtained in order to legally own it. Once a resident buys a gun, they must register that firearm with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Canadian Firearms Program.
Whereas, having only 6 reported gun deaths in 2014, Japan can be described as having one of most strict gun license and registration laws. Before potential gun owners can even touch a gun, they must “attend classes and pass written and practical exams”. These potential owners then “undergo psychological assessments to determine if they are fit to own a firearm”. After the exams are complete and the psychological assessments are done, the police do thorough background checks, which can be quite time consuming and can even expand to the applicant’s relatives. These background checks are done to ensure that the individual will take caution when receiving and owning the gun.
Finally, changes need to be made if we want to start seeing a decline in gun homicides. America needs to enforce the laws we have and make new ones. Right now, America’s license and registration laws vary from state to state, creating gaps and making it easier for some people to obtain guns. If America wants to see changes, laws similar to Canada’s and Japan’s should be implemented. These requirements that other countries utilize is what America should be looking into when determining new gun laws.
Header photo from The Atlantic.