The poster shown here must be a bit old (there is no country named “West Germany” any more), but the relative ratios of handgun deaths in the US to levels in these other countries has not improved with time.
In reviewing the gun laws of each of the countries in this list, wikipedia provides the following information…
Japan has very strict firearm control laws, moving in the direction of even stricter laws (and Japan is a stable democracy).
The UK effectively bans handguns and strictly controls the possession of all other firearms, and has been moving towards stricter laws; including a total ban on automatic firearms in 1998, which has since led to a significant drop in gun-related deaths (and the UK is a stable democracy).
Switzerland practices universal conscription and requires all able bodied citizens to keep automatic firearms at home in case of call-up. Gun ownership is protected by law; however, gun owners are legally responsible for the usage of their weapons by third parties (and Switzerland is a stable democracy).
Canada’s laws are more liberal than the UK’s, but do require gun owners to pass a firearms safety course before receiving a license to purchase and own a weapon. Handgun possession and use are heavily restricted, with military class weapons and handguns having barrels under 4.1 being totally banned (and Canada is a stable democracy).
Like Switzerland, Israel also practices universal conscription; a firearms license is required before possessing a gun of any sort. For civilians, who can get a license is very restricted and those who qualify must pass a weapons-training course. In Israel, gun ownership is considered a privilege, not a right (and Israel is a stable democracy).
In Sweden, gun ownership laws are fairly liberal, but a gun license must be obtained from the police, and among the prerequisites are being a member of a gun club and having passed a “hunting examination.” No specific firearms are banned, but gun ownership is considered a privilege, not a right (and Sweden is a stable democracy).
In Germany, self defense is not a valid reason for owning a gun. a permit is required to possess a gun, and a more restrictive permit is required to carry a gun either openly or concealed. Automatic firearms and military weapons as well as Tasers are completely prohibited for private use. All guns must be registered (and Germany is a stable Democracy).
In short, of all of the countries in this list, only the US does not require gun licenses, and only the US does not have nationwide handgun or automatic weapon restrictions, let alone more than token state and local controls. Also, nearly all of these nations view gun possession as a privilege, all of them require training in gun usage and safety before a license is granted, and all of them are stable democracies despite the “lack” of a universal right to gun ownership.
For me, those who are opponents of gun control have some very high hurdles to overcome: such as showing why a “right” to gun ownership has any value at all (let alone claiming that gun ownership is actually guaranteed by the Second Amendment, which it clearly is not). And, showing why universal licensing of gun ownership is a bad thing – given that it is working well in every other major democracy that requires gun licensing.
What is very clear is the outcome of promoting unrestricted gun ownership: many more people die needlessly. Research has conclusively shown that increased rates of gun ownership leads to a greater homicide rate; and that increased rates of gun ownership are detrimental to the healthy and stability of communities.
At the very least, instead of trying to identify and stop potential “bad actors” at the point of sale from buying guns, we should have a system where a gun license is a prerequisite to gun ownership, obtainable only after one passes a gun safety training course – a position the NRA used to support, by the way. Also, military grade weapons and cheap handguns must be prohibited as there is no justification (from the point of view of the reasoning given within the second amendment) for their possession by private citizens, even if one believes that the second amendment grants universal ownership of guns as a “right” in a general sense. However; based on the nature of modern war (and repression) and on what we see in the gun laws of other major democracies, one must question whether gun ownership has anything to do with promoting a stronger and safer democracy- casting the rationale for the second amendment (as currently worded) into doubt.
In any discussion, I prefer to start with the facts and see where they lead. So, based on the facts, the only conclusion I can come to is that while responsible gun ownership is not a bad thing; we have a major problem in this country with irresponsible gun ownership, and with those who promote it in the name of a “right” that is – at best – outmoded, and is (as currently presented) a fiction in any case.
Copyright (c) 2014, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved. I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as you are not seeking (or gaining) financial benefit for doing so, and as long as proper credit for my authorship is given. (e.g., via a credit that gives my full name and/or provides a link back to this site – or just email me and ask!)