It seems like every day, there’s someone on the news or the internet that’s dead set on voicing their opinions about America’s guns. The second amendment in our Constitution has become a hot button issue over the last several years as the media focuses more and more on the spree of mass shootings that have become commonplace in our modern society. Hey, no judgement on the right to bare arms; they’re baked right into the foundation of the country and they’re extremely important to a large percentage of law-abiding citizens who’ve simply earned the right to feel protected in their own home. Of course, that’s America; the rest of the world has tackled the gun problem in an entirely different manner. And since it’s sometimes helpful to view our own country through the lens of others’ experiences, here, for your consideration, are a few of the ways our international brethren have handled guns in their country.
1. Canada Is Close, But Stricter
Canadian gun laws are actually fairly close to America’s in terms of how they’re handled. The country’s capital, Ottawa, makes their own gun restrictions that can be modified by Canada’s provinces and territories. Those gun owners wishing to purchase a rifle or shotgun are required to be 18 years old, pass a background check, and take a public safety course. Anyone hoping to obtain a semi-automatic weapon needs to go through the federal government and a more rigorous testing process. What’s interesting is that although many Canadians have guns, they don’t tend to use them on each other like their neighbors to the south do. Canada’s firearm-related homicide rate is around seven times lower than the United States’ (3.5 per 100,000 population). You’re more likely to be shot to death in the U.S. than you are to die in a car accident in Canada.
2. Israel Gets by With Its Unique Culture
In Israel, the United States’ ally in the Middle East, military service is compulsory and the threat of attack is nearly constant. As a result, guns of all types are a daily reality in the country. While the country has strict gun laws in place, some Jewish writers have claimed that guns are still ever-present in society (because pretty much everyone is a soldier and therefore has access to an assault weapon). However, there’s not much of a gun problem in Israel thanks mostly to the country’s inclusion of firearms (and firearm safety) into everyday life.
3. Japan Leans Strict Regulation
No matter how you look at it, Japan is winning the gun crime competition. The country is only victim to gun crime for one in every ten million of its citizens, making Japan the country with the lowest instance of gun crime in the world. Some experts link this phenomenon to Japan’s incredibly strict gun laws in which only shotguns, air guns, and a very limited selection of other options are available. The Japanese government also mandates that its people undergo a rigorous series of written, background, drug, and mental tests as well as annual reviews in order to own a weapon in the country.
4. Germany Has Seen Good Results From Psychiatric Tests
Germany has an incredibly high ownership of guns within its borders. However, the gun homicide rate in the country is one of the lowest in the entire world. One person for every 2,000 people is a victim of gun violence in Germany. Compare that to nearly 7 people for every 2,000 people in the United States. That number has been achieved thanks to a very marked drop in homicide rates due to the implementation of strict psychiatric tests for anyone under the age of 25 applying for a gun license. This simple step has dropped homicide rates by a quarter in just five years.
5. How Afghanistan Operates in the Aftermath of War
In Afghanistan, there aren’t as many guns as you’d think. Only about one in every 25 people own a gun there, which jives with the government’s assessment that there are about a million weapons there (compared to the 300 million in America). Still, though, except for a background check, it’s reasonably easy — though discouraged — to own a private weapon and even carry it openly in the streets.
6. South Africa Takes a While
South Africa is a test case for the potential trouble too much regulation can cause. The process of getting a firearm in the country can take up to two years from the date of your first application since applicants are required to submit to a series of tests, plus they’re also required to submit to a home review. Of course, recent regulations hope to speed up this process considerably. Time will tell how that move pans out.
7. The United Kingdom Offers Odd Statistics
Starting in the late 1980s with what’s colloquially known as the Hungerford massacre (in which 16 people were killed by a man toting legally owned firearms), the United Kingdom has implemented increasingly stringent firearms laws. However, according to analysts, gun crimes in the UK didn’t actually peak until 2004 — more than eight years after the country’s most strict laws were passed. The correlation leads some experts to believe that in some cases, legislation doesn’t curb gun crime. That being said, firearms murders in Britain are 30 times less per capita than in the US.
8. In India, They Just Made Everything Illegal
As of legislation passed in 2014, India has made it pretty much impossible to buy any kind of weapon that’s not a shotgun or a standard rifle. By dividing their guns into two categories — Prohibited Bore and Non-Prohibited Bore — the Indian government have made it easy to slide individual weapon gauges across the line into basically unpurchasable with ease.
9. South Korea Wins Most Restrictive
Perhaps surprisingly (considering the fact that North Korea is right freaking there), South Korea has the most restrictive gun laws in the entire developed world. No one is allowed to keep a private firearm in their home. Even those weapons issued via sporting licenses are kept at local police stations when they’re not in use. Even air rifles fall under this mandate. South Korea has only 0.08 firearm-related deaths per 100,000 people.
10. Guns South of the Border
It’s very possible for men and women to own guns in Mexico, however the process is fairly rigorous and the country is very cautious about providing weapons over a certain caliber. What’s more, anyone who wants a gun must petition the country’s Defense Ministry. The Defense Ministry is also the only place from which these citizens can procure these weapons – at least legally. Even though Mexico is embroiled in a raging drug war where 122 people per million die through gun homicide, that rate is just slightly higher than Americans’ death rate from pancreatic cancer.
11. Norway Proves No Country Is Immune
Norway isn’t typically featured when it comes to the gun control population because they’re something of an odd duck. In spite of the fact that the country is considered “strict” in terms of its gun laws — age limits and government licenses are among the requirements — the number of gun owners in the country is quite high. Norway is actually tenth in terms of gun ownership, yet their instances of gun violence are very low (1.75 persons fire-arm related deaths per 100,000). That doesn’t mean the country is immune, though, as in 2011, one man killed 77 people at a Norwegian summer camp.
12. Australia, the Obligatory Slide
It’s essentially impossible to have a conversation about firearms without mentioning Australia, which once had a real problem with gun violence in their country. Then, the government passed the National Agreement on Firearms, which all but prohibited automatic and semi-automatic rifles in the country and tightened the country’s grip on gun ownership over all. As a result, Australia has reported a marked decrease in gun crime in the country, making them a model for reducing violence through legislation. They haven’t had a mass shooting since 1996, whereas they’ve become all too commonplace in the US most of us have lost count.