President Donald Trump reportedly told Japanese Emperor Akihito that mass shootings can happen “anywhere” in the world including Japan, which only has single-digit rates of firearm-related deaths annually.
Trump met Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on Monday on the first stop of his 11-day tour of Asia. They talked about several topics including the gruesome mass shooting that took place on Sunday at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs near San Antonio, Texas.
Devin Patrick Kelley, the 26-year-old gunman, killed 26 people and injured 20 others — 10 of whom are still in critical condition as of Monday, according to CNN.
When Emperor Akihito brought up what happened in Texas, Trump said that it was a “terrible incident” and that the mass killing “can happen anywhere,” Japanese news outlet Mainichi Shimbun reported via The Independent.
However, the president’s comment seems irrelevant in Japan, where strict gun laws mean the country sees fewer shooting deaths. In fact, data shows that there were only six reported cases of gun-related deaths in the country in 2014, compared to 33,599 in the U.S., BBC reported.
Rare gun violence in Japan is all thanks to the country’s extensive application process that people go through if they want to own a gun, which includes attending an all-day class, taking a written exam and passing a shooting-range test with a minimum grade requirement of 95%.
But even after applying, the only firearms civilians can acquire — through a very lengthy, rigorous process — are shotguns and air rifles.
Owning a handgun is illegal in Japan, and even police officers try to steer clear of using their sidearms when apprehending criminals.
“The first instinct is not to reach for a gun – what most Japanese police will do is to get huge futons and essentially roll up the person who is being violent or drunk into a little burrito and carry them back to the station and calm them down. The response to violence is never violence – it is to de-escalate,” journalist Anthony Berteaux told BBC earlier this year.
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