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Japanese assassination a lesson in gun control's failures

(AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

In the gun control debate, Japan is often presented as evidence that gun control works. They have strict gun control policies and a low rate of so-called gun crime.

Now, I’ve made the case that we shouldn’t look to Japan for guidance before.

However, now a bit of gun violence in Japan has made international headlines, and in this, at least, there is a lesson we can learn. We can learn how those who want a gun badly enough will get a gun.

The shooting sent shudders through low-crime, orderly Japan: A prominent politician was killed by a man emerging from a crowd, wielding a homemade firearm so roughly constructed it was wrapped in tape.

The 40-centimeter-long (16-inch) weapon used to kill former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday as he campaigned for his ruling party in western Japan, looked crude, more like a propellant made of pipes taped together and filled with explosives.

A raid of the suspect’s home, a one-room apartment in Nara, turned up several such guns, police said. Unlike standard weapons, homemade guns are practically impossible to trace, making an investigation difficult.

Firearms are rarely used in Japan, where most attacks involve stabbings or dousing a place with gasoline and setting it ablaze, or running haywire on the street in a vehicle.

Strict gun control laws likely forced the attacker to make his own weapon. Tetsuya Yamagami, who was arrested on the spot, was a former member of Japan’s navy and knew how to handle and assemble weapons.

Now, let’s understand something very important here. This is Japan, with some of the strictest weapon control laws in the world. They were unable to stop this guy from building a gun he could use to assassinate an important political figure.

Do you really think we’d somehow make it work better here in the United States?

I’m not going to say we’re more creative than the Japanese or anything, but there are a lot more people here, which means we’ve got almost three times as many folks who would be willing to look at how to get around such restrictions here.

The truth is that no matter what laws you put on the books, bad guys will figure out a way around them.

Japan is an island nation. They have ever advantage you can think of to stop guns from coming into their country, so this dipstick grabbed some pipes and electrical tape and built him a firearm. It doesn’t even look like it was something too technically difficult to make.

In other words, it’s not hard to imagine someone here being able to build such a weapon if they were of a mind to do so.

So why don’t they? They don’t need to.

For some, that’s evidence that our gun control laws are too loose, but the truth is that folks like you and I are also able to have guns to protect ourselves from maniacs like this dirtball. We can meet the threats against us–and let’s be honest, it’s not politicians being gunned down every day on American streets, now is it?–with the same level of force.

The truth is, what happened in Japan is proof that bad people will continue to get the means to hurt others, even if they have to duct tape it together themselves.

What gun control does, though, is keep the law-abiding from being able to fight back.

Not only is that bad policy, but it’s downright evil. It’s why I refuse to bend the knee and allow the gun control side of the argument to win. We deserve better.

Aug 18, 2022 5:30 PM ET