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Guns and Firearms: Freedom of Property or Freedom of Massacre?

On July 4th, six were killed, and dozens were injured at Highland Park, Illinois, due to a mass shooting. In Canada, several people became victims of gun violence on July 25th. Nonetheless, this is the grim reality in the western world.

By: Guanxi Lew

According to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit organization that aims to document gun violence and crimes, at least 314 mass shooting incidents have happened in the United States alone in just 186 days of this year. Research conducted by the Crime Prevention Research Center states that only 12 out of 97 countries that recorded gun violence from 1998 to 2015 are Asian countries, with their percentages all relatively lower than the west.

FBI agents on July 5 in Highland Park, Illinois after the shooting. Photo Credits: Jim Vondruska

Most western countries allow their civilians to own firearms with varying strictness in gun control through licensing, registration, categories of weapons, and background checks. However, even in countries with strict regulation measures like Norway, gun violence couldn’t be eliminated from their societies. According to data by the Crime Prevention Research Center, Norway’s number of gun attacks per 100 000 people is even higher than that of the United States.

Meanwhile, in most Asian countries, almost all civilians are prohibited from owning guns and firearms. In Japan, only shotguns, air guns, and guns that are used for research, industrial, and competition purposes are allowed to be owned by civilians, with rigorous registration and required background checks. As a result, we see an extremely low rate of gun violence there. Japan has not recorded any cases of gun violence from 1998 to 2015, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center.

Most western democracies base their gun policies on freedom of property. Hence, they believe it is only democratic when their people can freely own weapons for various purposes, one being self-defense. However, lives are at stake here. Though gun rights proponents argue that a high gun ownership rate does not lead to a high mass shooting rate, it is logical that when civilians do not own firearms, they cannot conduct gun violence. Therefore, the freedom of gun ownership must be reviewed by most western regimes to protect the lives of the innocent. No one wants to get killed just because they are walking down a street.

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