If you want to buy a gun in Japan you need patience and determination. You have to attend an all-day class, take a written exam and pass a shooting-range test with a mark of at least 95 percent.
There are also mental health and drug tests. Your criminal record is checked and police look for links to extremist groups. Then they check your relatives too – and even your work colleagues. And as well as having the power to deny gun licenses, police also have sweeping powers to search and seize weapons.
That’s not all. Handguns are banned outright. Only shotguns and air rifles are allowed.
The law restricts the number of gun shops. In most of Japan’s 40 or so prefectures, there can be no more than three, and you can only buy fresh cartridges by returning the spent cartridges you bought on your last visit.
Police must be notified where the gun and the ammunition are stored – and they must be stored separately under lock and key. Police will also inspect guns once a year. And after three years your license runs out, at which point you have to attend the course and pass the tests again.
This helps explain why mass shootings in Japan are extremely rare. …