Let’s all pray for the soul of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated today while giving a speech. His assassination has rocked Japan, which hasn’t seen something like this since the Socialist leader Inejiro Asanuma was assassinated in 1960.
While the motives of Abe’s assassin aren’t clear yet, the geopolitical ramifications could be significant. If the assassin turns out to be someone who was funded by China or North Korea, it could result in greater tensions in East Asia. And if Abe ends up becoming a modern-day martyr, it could strengthen supporters of his nationalist cause.
But the major lesson to be learned in the immediate aftermath of the assassination is the futility of gun control. Japan has one of the strictest gun control regimes in the world, yet Abe’s assassin was able to build a homemade gun and kill one of the most famous men in the world.
In the aftermath of this week’s shooting in Highland Park, there were articles circulating in the media about how Japan had incredibly low levels of gun violence, and how Japan could serve as a model for the United States.
These types of articles conveniently ignore the history of weapon ownership (or non-ownership) in Japan, derived from the samurai system that played such a significant role in Japanese history. They also ignore the unique aspects of Japanese culture, such as ethnic homogeneity, that allows the country to operate the way it does.
Not only are US media ignorant of Japanese culture, some are even ignorant of Japan’s gun laws. After Abe’s assassination, some newscasters wondered whether Japan would take another look at its gun laws. Come again?
Abe’s assassin made a homemade zip gun out of what looks like steel pipe, wood, electrical tape, and wiring. It likely used gunpowder made from fireworks or match heads, possibly with ball bearings or other hardware as a projectile, and was fired with electric ignition. There is literally no gun control regime in the world, no matter how strict, that could prevent such a gun from being built and used.
This incident shows once again that gun control is futile. Firearms are old technology, easily created at home, and if all you need is material readily available at a hardware store, there’s nothing you can do to prohibit their creation and use.
If there’s anything Abe’s death can teach us, it’s that evil will always find a way to work. So rather than trusting in laws to keep us safe and becoming complacent, we need to do our best not to punish the innocent and instead punish only evildoers.
Image: Government of Japan