With the recent mass shootings in Orlando, Florida, San Bernardino, California and Newtown, Connecticut, American gun reform is yet again a highly discussed and controversial topic among policymakers. Not surprisingly, gun control varies greatly in countries around the world and works in many of those countries that have cracked down on guns. While many are debating the topic to this day and don’t believe that gun reform works, it’s very difficult to argue the cold, hard facts about the changes gun laws brought about in the following 10 countries.
Australia is considered to be the model control with regards to gun control. The reform occurred following the Port Arthur Massacre of April 1996 in which a young man killed 35 people and wounded 23. The rampage occurred with a semiautomatic rifle and was the worst the country’s history. Within two-weeks the government passed fundamental changes to the gun control laws and landed on the National Agreement on Firearms which stiffened licensing and ownership rules and instituted a temporary gun buyback program which removed 650,000 assault rifles from public circulation.
Then, after another shooting Melbourne in 2002, the handgun laws were tightened. Analysts note that these measures have been effective and there is a significant decline in gun-death rates. Also, there have been zero mass killings in Australia since 1996. Many suggest this can serve as a model for the United States.
Most analysts agree that Canada’s fun laws are strict with comparison to the United States. The country’s capital, Ottawa, sets federal gun restrictions for all provinces, municipalities and territories which can be supplemented. Federal regulations require all owners to be at least 18-years of age, acquire a license, pass a background check and attend a public safety course. Canada classifies three types of weapons: non-restricted (shotguns and ordinary rifles), restricted (handguns, sawed-offs and semi-automatic rifles) and prohibited (fully-automatics). Those wishing to purchase a restricted firearm must acquire a federal registration certificate.
Gun ownership in the People’s Republic of China is heavily regulated by the government. In general, private citizens are not permitted to possess funs and there are major penalties for arms trafficking with the worst being death. Guns can be used by the military, paramilitary, law enforcement and security personnel that protects property or important people to the state. Civilian ownership is restricted to authorized, non-individual entities such as, authorized hunting reserves, wildlife protection, sporting organizations, research organizations and management. The main exception to the ban is for the purpose of hunting.
Modern gun control has been driven by previous violence. IN December 1989, a disgruntled student entered a Montreal engineering school with a semiautomatic rifle and killed 14 students. This incident led to the 1995 Firearms Act which required licensing and registration of all long gun and banned more than half of registered guns.
Germany has interesting relationship with firearms. There are a lot of guns in the country but there are not a lot of gun-related deaths. There are currently more guns in the west than the east because it was illegal in the east prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Experts note that the low gun violence is due to tweaks in the gun law following high-profile shootings. In 2002, a 19-year-old student killed 16 people, after he was recently expelled, using weapons from a gun club. The law changed within a year to require those under 25 to undergo a psychiatric evaluation with a trained counselor as well as personality and anger management testing. Those over 25 can be called in for a psychiatric test if they display specific behavior. Also, the country has further tweaked the laws since, making it harder for individuals to own multiple weapons.
Following two horrific shooting incidences at schools within one year of each other, Finland’s gun culture was called into question. As a result, lawmakers raised the minimum age of firearm licenses to 20 for short weapons and 18 for hunting guns. Finland’s Foreign Minister admitted that nobody needs to have a gun at home.
Gun control advocates also look at Japan as a model for reform. The country has highly restrictive firearms regulations which has resulted in a significantly low gun-homicide rate. At the moment, Japan has the lowest in the world with one in ten million deaths by guns. The majority of guns are illegal in the country and ownership rates are reflected by this ban. According to the Firearm and Sword Law, the only permitted guns include air guns, shotguns, guns with research and industrial purposes and those used for competitions. To access these specialty weapons, you must obtain formal instruction and pass written, drug and mental tests as well as a background check. Also, owners must notify authorities as to how the weapons will be used and the ammunition store along with providing the firearm for annual inspection.
Military service is a requirement in Israel and that includes use of guns. According to the law, 18-year-olds are drafted, psychologically screened and receive weapons training. They typically serve two-to-three years and are discharged but must abide by civilian gun laws. The country has strict gun regulations including a requirement to register ownership and an assault-weapon ban. To be licensed, you must be a permanent resident or Israeli citizen, 22-years-old and speak Hebrew. Also, you must be able to prove a genuine cause to carry a firearm. The result of these measures is a low gun-related homicide rate.
Gun control was rarely a political issue in Norway until the right-wing extremist, Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in an attack on an island summer camp in July 2011. Following the massacre, the government setup an independent commission to tighten the country’s gun restrictions in a variety of ways including prohibiting semiautomatic weapons and pistols.
On March 13th, 1996 a lone gunman shot dead 16 children and their teacher in Dunblane, Scotland. This massacre led to gun control laws that banned civilians from owning handguns. Although there was initially little impact from the regulations, since that time, the number of crimes involving guns has dropped considerably. In 2010/2011, there were 11,227 offenses which is 53-percent below the peak number and handgun crimes dropped 44-percent.
Extraordinary acts of violence have created modern gun control efforts in the United Kingdom that sparked outrage and political action. After the Hungerford Massacre of 1987, the government introduced the Firearms (Amendment) Act which added additional gun-types to the list of banned weapons and increased registration requirements. Norway ranked 10th in the world in gun ownership as there are many hunters in the country. This has significantly decreased the amount of gun violence over the years.