Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated Friday, July 8, on a street in Nara, Japan, by a gunman who opened fire on him from behind as he delivered a campaign speech.
Police at the scene arrested Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, a former member of Japan's navy, on suspicion of murder. Police said he used a gun that was obviously homemade and they confiscated similar weapons and his personal computer when they raided his nearby apartment.
After the news broke of the killing, some online users claimed guns are banned in the country, and asked how the attack could have happened.
Lavern Spicer, a congressional candidate in Florida, tweeted, “How did Shinzo Abe get assassinated when guns are banned in Japan? Liberals, care to explain?” On July 8, the tweet had 11,000 likes and more than 2,000 retweets.
Are guns completely banned in Japan?
No, guns aren’t completely banned in Japan, but they are heavily regulated. Some individuals can still buy certain firearms, but they require a special license.
WHAT WE FOUND
In Japan, handguns are banned, but if someone applied for a special license and went through a rigorous application process, they could own certain firearms, like shotguns and air rifles, according to Japan’s National Police Agency.
Possession of parts to assemble a gun is also prohibited except in certain cases, such as ownership by persons with pistol licenses, the law says.
Licenses for possession of firearms are issued for specific guns for certain applications, such as hunting or eradication of noxious birds or animals, the law says. People with criminal records and a history of drug addiction can’t be issued a license. Concealed or homemade guns are banned in the country.
Those who wish to own firearms must go through a stringent background check, including clearance by a medical doctor, and declare information about family members. They must also pass shooting and hunting tests to show they know how to use firearms correctly. Those who pass and purchase a gun must also buy a special locking system for the weapon at the same time.
According to GunPolicy.org, which compiles data on firearm policy across the globe, in 2019, there were 310,400 registered, privately owned firearms reported in Japan. Japan has a population of more than 125 million. Only 1 in 400 Japanese residents owns guns.
In 2021, the country had 10 gun-related criminal cases, resulting in a single death and four injuries.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.