Times compares nations’ gun rules


The New York Times just published an article titled “How to Buy a Gun in 15 Countries” highlighting the different ways a person can buy a gun in 15 countries. The article by Audrey Carlsen and Sahil Chinoy passively emphasizes the lack of gun restrictions in place for Americans to buy guns.

The article is in a list format in which the steps for how to obtain a gun in each of the 15 countries mentioned are laid out in numerical order. Among the 15 different countries, the authors highlight the 13-step-process to get a gun in Japan.

The very first step is joining a hunting or shooting club, while the second to last step is allowing police to inspect a personal gun storage unit. Japan’s restrictions include obtaining doctors notes, permits, personal history and opinion of friends and family in order to reach the possibility of owning a gun. These elaborate rules have created one of the lowest gun violence rates in the world in Japan.

Carsen and Chinoy put the U.S. gun restrictions at the top of the article, presumably to show how easily obtainable a gun is in America. According to the article, “roughly a third of American gun owners buy guns without a background check, which federal law does not require when buying directly from a private seller.”

While Carsen and Chinoy do not offer any commentary in the article, the format in which the United States lack of gun restrictions is at the top speaks for itself in showing how much harder it is to obtain a gun in the majority of countries that proceed the U.S. in the list.

According to the article, only Yemen, one of the poorest Middle Eastern countries and a country that has been war-stricken since 2015, has slightly less gun restrictions than the U.S. The authors want readers to see the scary reality that the United States is not far from becoming a country controlled by violence and terror.

There is middle ground when it comes to gun restrictions. In America, we often are torn between wanting heavy restrictions in which it would be hard for almost anyone to obtain gun, to extremely lenient restrictions in which most people could obtain a gun.  After mass shootings, much like the one that occurred less than a month ago in Parkland, Fla., the country polarizes and our government often enters into a gridlock when it comes to changing gun laws.

What this article stresses most, without even saying it, is that there are so many alternatives to creating suitable gun restrictions without making them too tight or too lose.  In almost every country mentioned in the article, including India, Canada, Austria, and Australia, a person must have proper storage for the gun. While this small regulation seems simple, in America, many school shooters are kids who have easy access to a weapon.

The article does not say how American gun laws should change, but merely shows that in other countries with less gun violence, there are regulations in place that protect and save the lives of civilians.

Carlsen and Chinoy present this list as considerations for our law makers. The article can be read in the New York Times at https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/03/02/world/international-gun-laws.html.