Gun Law Comparisons

Looking at ideas from other countries laws to see what we can do


Hannah Olafson, Staff Writer

On Feb. 14, the President of the United States tweeted his prayers and condolences to the families and friends of the 17 students and teachers who lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. His words were met with backlash from celebrities, students and other citizens wanting stricter gun control.

Currently, the gun laws in place consist of restrictions on the selling and possessing of short-barreled shotguns, machine guns and silencers. If someone, for whatever reason, feels the need to own one of these, they must go through meticulous background checks, purchase a tax stamp and register the weapon with the National Firearms Act. A person can’t own a firearm if they were previously convicted of a crime that made them serve time for more than one year, are using an illegal substance, or have mental health issues.

According to New York Times, Nikolas Cruz, the alleged Florida school shooter, had autism and anger issues. He continuously posted pictures of weapons and dead animals on social media, and was thought to have posted a comment on YouTube saying he wishes to be a “professional school shooter.” So how is it that he waltzed into his high school with a legal AR-15 rifle?

Cruz bought the gun himself at the age of 18. He had no criminal record so he breezed through the FBI’s background check. However, he is mentally challenged. The federal law states people who have mental disabilities cannot legally buy a gun. Despite this law, 1.2 million people failed to pass this mental exam, yet only 16,669 people were rejected from buying a gun, said.

This is unacceptable.

There is absolutely no reason one person should slip through the system, let alone over a million people. We need to be stricter about our laws. Anyone who doesn’t pass the background check should not be allowed a gun. This is just one of the many reasons we need to look at other countries and compare their laws to ours.

Japan, for example, has one of the lowest rates of gun death in the world due to banning nearly all civilians from having a gun. BBC reported, in 2014, the US had 33,599 gun deaths while Japan only had six. In order to buy a gun in Japan, you have to sit through an all-day class and take a written exam while also passing a shooting range test with a score of at least 95%. Civilians must also pass mental health and drug test. All of your records are checked along with your family history and relationships with co-workers. Not only that, but no one is allowed to own a handgun, they are completely banned.

Australia and the United Kingdom’s gun laws have been brought to our country’s attention. If we push laws similar to theirs through Congress our homicide rates could potentially drop like theirs.

Australia put their gun laws in place in 1996 after the Port Arthur massacre that killed 35 people. After that, the government destroyed 660,000 rapid-fire weapons over two years. They also banned importation and selling of all automatic, semi-automatic rifles and shotguns. People who wanted to buy them also needed a good reason. According to, Australia had 311 murders, 98 involving guns during 1996. Since then, their homicide rates have dropped significantly.

The Sun said the UK instituted tough gun control laws after Thomas Hamilton killed 16 primary school students and their teacher in 1996. The year following, Prime Minister John Major instituted the Firearms Act banning cartridge ammunition handguns, except 22 calibre single-shot weapons. BBC claims in order to get a gun, their citizens have to fill our hours of paperwork giving the government a good reason as to why they need it. The police then go and check all their records for alcoholism, drug abuse or any signs of a mental disorder. Plus, they need a secure place to keep the deadly weapon. Since then, the UK has only had one mass shooting, when Derrick Bird killed 12 people in Whitehaven, Cumbria, in 2010.

We are seven weeks into 2018. There has already been 18 times where a gun was shot on school property and eight of those shootings involved injury or death.

I am petrified.

I should feel safe in my school. I should never have to be concerned about my safety in a classroom. No student should. Parents should not worry about their kids when they send them off to school. They should not feel the need to teach their child how to use a gun for self-defense. Children should not have to worry about protecting themselves at all. Our government needs to put the safety of our children first and institute these laws. Maybe then, I will feel safe in my own classroom, in my own school and on the streets of my own city.