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    Monday, March 04, 2024

    Shinzo Abe’s assassination was an extraordinarily rare firearm fatality for Japan

    With two shots from a homemade firearm, a disturbed individual cut down Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe, as he campaigned for his political party ahead of parliamentary elections. During his second and longest stint as prime minister, from 2012 to 2020, Abe was a forceful world figure, taking up a regional trade deal when the Trump administration withdrew and working to resurrect Japan’s military after it was all but abolished after World War II.

    He made serious mistakes, including a stubborn refusal to accept the totality of Japan’s responsibility for war crimes committed in the first half of the 20th century. But on the long, positive side of the ledger, he managed to jump-start Japan’s stalled economy and cultivated close relationships with many world leaders. Up until the day of his death, he exerted huge political influence in his country.

    Now, he joins the very small group of people felled by firearms in Japan. Despite having more than a third of the population of the United States, gun deaths there routinely top out at under 10 per year. Not per day, not per week — per year. Controlling for population, there are on average more than 4,000 times as many annual gun deaths in the United States than in Japan.

    It’s clear now that the killer, for whom a motive remains hazy, made his own gun and likely his own ammunition, which would have been ineffective at anything but very close range. Abe’s security failed to interdict the shooter before he struck, and to some extent, he got lucky.

    Had he been able to walk into a store and purchase an AR-15 and copious ammunition, he would have been able to perch on a rooftop and take out Abe and half the crowd to boot, as the Highland Park killer did on July Fourth. Before the usual suspects cry that gun regulation doesn’t work, imagine how much safer our streets would be if would-be killers had to make their own guns instead of easily buying weapons of war.

    ©2022 New York Daily News. Visit nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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