Gun control laws differ from one nation to another. The importance of strict gun laws tends to be a matter of debate for both analysts and stakeholders. Advocates for gun restriction often quote the low crime rates reported in countries where guns are not easily owned by residents. Democracies implement some levels of gun restrictions to ensure its population is safe from crime perpetrated with firearms.
Gun ownership in China is strictly regulated. Civilians are not authorized to have guns and can even face life imprisonment if caught trafficking firearms. Institutions such as sporting organizations, legal hunting reserves and wildlife protection, and research entities can own guns. Individual ownership can be obtained for hunting. After a strict process, a license can be obtained for those without felony convictions. Fully automatics and explosives are prohibited in China. China has a low homicide rate, at 0.7 per 100,000 residents in 2014.
Federal gun restrictions in Canada indicate that a potential firearm owner is able to obtain a license, but only after completing a background check as well as a safety course. Firearms are divided into three groups: restricted, non-restricted, and prohibited. Restricted firearms include certain types of handguns and long guns which require stricter requirements when compared to non-restricted. Non-restricted firearms include shotguns and sporting rifles which are commonly used for hunting. Prohibited firearms include automatics and other military arms which should not be possessed by civilians. Canada has a 3.5 per 100,000 population firearm-related homicide rate. In 2012, the country recorded 172 homicides related to firearms.
3. United Kingdom
Through a series of amendments in the 20th century, the UK government has managed to restrict the ownership of all automatic firearms as well as the majority of self-loading firearms. The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 was enacted in the wake of the Hungerford Massacre which left 16 people dead and 15 others injured. To own a gun, a UK civilian must obtain a shotgun certificate or a firearm certificate from the police. One must also fulfill a series of stringent criteria to acquire either one of the certificates. The 1997 massacre at a school in Dunblane led to the banning of most handguns. Only 8% of the total criminal homicides in the UK are committed using a firearm of any kind.
In 1996, a mass shooting took place in Port Arthur, Tasmania which left 35 people dead and 23 others wounded. The perpetrator, Martin Bryant, used a semi-automatic rifle to commit the deadliest mass shooting in the country’s history. The Australian Conservative government responded by introducing several gun control laws. Pump action shotguns and high capacity semi-automatic rifles holding more than five rounds were restricted. About 650,000 assault weapons that had been in the hands of the public were taken back by the government. To be a gun owner in Australia, one must obtain a Firearms License from State Governments which must be renewed every year or after every five years. A potential gun owner must cite a genuine reason such as target shooting or hunting. Stricter gun control laws in Australia have translated to declining gun-homicide rates.
Japan has some of the world’s most restrictive gun laws, which were enacted after World War II. Almost no residents in Japan own guns. The few guns that are allowed include shotguns and guns used for competitions, research, or in industries. To own a gun there is a lengthy process of background checks, drug and mental tests, as well as formal instruction. Advocates for gun control often quote Japan’s low gun-homicide rates, which is one in 10 million, as one of the lowest in the world. The few civilians that manage to own guns are required to tell authorities how the weapon will be used and how ammunition is stored. The Japanese National Police Agency strictly regulates gun licensing.