Hong Kong Shooting Shows Guns Aren't The Problem

Hong Kong Shooting Shows Guns Aren't The Problem
Police officers stand guard after a shooting at the Quarry Bay Park in Hong Kong, Tuesday, June 26, 2018. Hong Kong media say four people have been injured in a rare instance of gun violence in the Chinese territory. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

A place like Hong Kong would be expected to have some pretty strict gun control, and they do. This is probably due to their roots as a British colony for so long, followed by their return to Chinese governance. While they’re still somewhat autonomous, it’s not surprising that they would frown on private gun owners. For most Asian nations, it’s fairly cultural anyway.

However, such a culture didn’t stop a recent shooting that the New York Times says has left people rattled.

The shooting on Tuesday, which one local newspaper said was the first reported gun crime since 2015 in the semiautonomous Chinese territory, dominated local news broadcasts and the front pages of newspapers.

The police said that a 44-year-old woman believed to be the attacker had most likely been motivated by a family conflict. They said two of her relatives, an 80-year-old woman and a 62-year-old man, both died at a hospital after being shot in the head. The police said two other relatives had also been shot: a man, 72, in the shoulder, and a woman, 60, in the hand.

It was all the more shocking for its time and location: a sunny afternoon in Quarry Bay, a neighborhood in the northeast of Hong Kong Island. The shooting happened at a park with a large playground and a running trail popular among residents. The suspect, whose name was not released, was arrested soon after at a nearby shopping mall under suspicion of murder and attempted murder. The police recovered a handgun that they say was used in the shooting.

Gun crimes are very uncommon in Hong Kong, and firearm restrictions are strict. People applying for gun licenses are judged on “whether there is a good reason for that applicant to hold a license,” among other considerations. Most of those seeking licenses have to have already been members of shooting clubs before they are approved. They must also pay fees ranging from about $300 for a handgun license to $700 for an ammunition license.

Now, to be fair, Hong Kong’s crime statistics don’t look too bad for a city of over 7 million people. That said, I’m not really sure how they collect the data, so they could essentially be meaningless.

What we do know is that despite the incredibly strict gun control laws on the books in Hong Kong, there was still a mass shooting, at least by some definitions. We also know that no, this is not a uniquely American phenomenon. While Hong Kong may well be the most western city in all of China, it’s not the West, much less the United States.

Stuff like this happens everywhere. It may happen more here, which is something to look into, but it’s not unique. It’s not something that “doesn’t happen in other countries.” So? It doesn’t generally happen in inner cities either. So what?

The truth is, Hong Kong’s gun laws are strict enough to make Shannon Watts weep for joy, and they didn’t stop this from happening, and that’s kind of the point. No law actually will. People who want to kill will find a way to kill.

Taking away guns from others, thus rendering them defenseless, isn’t an answer.