An attacker screaming “Drop dead!” and “DIE!” recently murdered 34 people and injured three dozen more in a brutal attack. This terrible tragedy occurred only a few months after another rampage in which a man attacked 17 elementary school children and two adults — leaving two dead. It followed yet another mass killing in which a deranged individual wrote a letter claiming that “all disabled should cease to exist.” He then went on to murder 19 people and wound 25 more, the youngest 19 years old and the oldest 70, at a facility for the mentally disabled.
The mainstream, anti-gun bandwagon would claim that these are just three recent examples showing the need for “common-sense laws” and stricter gun control. Surely red flag laws and background checks could have played a significant part in thwarting these evil men. If assault weapons were out of the picture entirely and wait lists were enacted, these horrific attacks could have been prevented … and 55 innocent lives would have been saved.
Oh, but wait. Here’s something you should know: These mass murders did not take place in the USA. These terrible atrocities occurred in Japan, a country considered one of the world’s safest. According to a United Nations’ global study on homicide, fewer than one person is murdered for every 100,000 in the population of Japan (compared to 4.8 in the United States and 445.7 for Belize). Business Insider reported that Japan’s murder rate has been declining since the 1950s. It is often attributed by some researchers to “a greater chance of detection (according to police data, 98 percent of homicide cases are solved), the rejection of violence after the Second World War, the growth of affluence without the accompanying concentrations of poverty common in many highly developed countries and the stigma of arrest for any crime in Japanese society.”
There’s more. These horrible mass murders were not carried out with firearms. The 34 dead and 30+ injured? The weapon was fire. The 41-year-old attacker from this sickening crime went to an animation studio in Kyoto, Japan, doused the place in flammable liquid and set it ablaze. The New York Times reported that within minutes, the studio “was a scene of horror: a man hanging from a ledge as flames licked the walls; a pile of bodies on a staircase leading to the roof; a barefoot woman so badly burned that all a bystander could do was spray her with water and wait for help.” A BBC Report called the attack “one of Japan’s worst mass casualty incidents since World War II.”
The 19 injured and two dead? The weapons of choice in this terrifying scene were knives. A 51-year-old man wielding blades in both hands stabbed 16 schoolgirls and two parents as they were waiting for the school bus one early morning in Kawasaki near Tokyo. According to witnesses, the suspect slowly approached the children and shouted, “I’m gonna kill you.” Police retrieved two knives at the scene and found two more in a backpack believed to belong to the suspect.
And the 19 dead and 25 wounded at the facility for the disabled? That was also a violent act carried out by an attacker with knives. The 26-year-old murderer claimed he had the ability to kill 470 disabled people in what he called “a revolution.” He targeted innocent lives at his former place of employment, going on a 40-minute killing spree in which he slashed the patients’ throats, claiming them a “mercy killing.”
You may be wondering why you didn’t hear about these terrible mass casualty events. Well, the U.S. media did not pay much attention. They couldn’t point to these examples as reasons to demand strict accelerant-control laws or blame knife violence. In these cases, they couldn’t demonize guns. And sadly, those 55 innocent lives went mostly unnoticed.
James Alan Fox, Northeastern University professor of criminology, law and public policy (who is NOT pro-gun, by the way), has commented that while the tragedies themselves are atrocious, what should not be overlooked is that “whatever the reason, the lesser attention given to mass killings that do not invoke guns is disrespectful to the victims whose lives are tragically cut short. Is the crime any less serious if there were no gunshots? Are the victims any less dead? In fact, victims of burns, suffocation or stabbing often suffer a much slower and more painful death than gunshot victims.
“It is surely fruitless to assess the relative severity of mass killings on the basis of weaponry. Our sense of outrage and concern for the victims should be the same whether they died from a firearm or fire.”
About Beth Alcazar
Author of Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals, associate editor of Concealed Carry Magazine and creator of the Pacifiers & Peacemakers column, Beth Alcazar has enjoyed nearly two decades of teaching and working in the firearms industry. She holds degrees in language arts, education and communication management and uses her experience and enthusiasm to share safe and responsible firearms ownership and usage with others. Beth is certified through the NRA as a Training Counselor, Chief Range Safety Officer and Certified Instructor for multiple disciplines. She is also a Certified Instructor through SIG Sauer Academy, ALICE Institute, DRAW School, TWAW and I.C.E. Training and is a USCCA Certified Instructor and Senior Training Counselor.