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It`s Not Just Gun Control Laws

Tuesday, January 11, 2000

National attention has been given recently to the notion that foreign countries that harshly restrict gun ownership have crime rates much lower than that of the United States. Advocates of anti-gun agendas often make this claim but fail, however, to acknowledge important civil rights differences between criminal justice systems.
Here are some aspects of Japan`s criminal justice system that those captivated by gun control fail to acknowledge:
  • Japanese police routinely search citizens at will and twice a year pay "home visits" to citizens` residences.
  • After arrest a suspect may be detained without bail for up to 28 days before a prosecutor must bring him before a judge. Amnesty International calls Japan`s police custody system a "flagrant violation of United Nations human rights principles."
  • Suspects` confession rate in Japan is 95%.
  • Suspects who stand trial have no right to a jury.
  • Japanese trial conviction rate is 99.91%.
  • The Tokyo Bar Association says Japanese police "engage in torture or illegal treatment. Even in cases where suspects claimed to have been tortured and their bodies bore physical traces to back their claims, courts have still accepted their confessions."
Great Britain has lower handgun homicide rates than the U.S., but also lower rates of homicide with knives, feet and fists. As British police superintendent Colin Greenwood asked, "is it also suggested that knives are less readily available in England than they are in the U.S.A., or that American criminals have more hands and feet than their British counterparts?"
  • Britain places strict qualifications on freedom of speech and the right to assemble, allowing, for example, book bans, censorship of videos and prior restraint of speech.
  • Parliament increasingly gives police more power to stop and search vehicles as well as pedestrians. Britain has no Bill of Rights and no true equivalent of the Supreme Court with the power to strike down unconstitutional laws.
  • Police may arrest any person they "reasonably suspect" supports an illegal organization.
  • Civil jury trials in Great Britain have been abolished in all cases except libel; criminal jury trials are rare.
  • Police are allowed to interrogate suspects who have asked that interrogation stop and are allowed to keep defense lawyers away from suspects under interrogation for limited periods. There are strong disincentives for suspects questioned by police to invoke the right to remain silent.
  • Evidence derived from leads developed during a coerced confession is allowed.
  • The grand jury, an ancient common law institution, was abolished in 1933.
Britain`s years of lowest gun crime came in an era when gun controls were virtually non- existent. Increasingly stringent gun controls have been followed by increasing gun crime. Despite tight licensing procedures, handgun-related robbery rose 200% during the past dozen years, five times as fast as the rise in the U.S.
Dr. Brandon Centerwall of the University of Washington found that from 1976 to 1980, ethnically and economically similar areas in the U.S. and Canada had virtually identical homicide rates despite their differing firearms laws.
  • Illegally-seized evidence is admissible in Canadian courts, so Canadians have no protection from warrantless police searches.
  • Canadian police, unlike their U.S. counterparts, are not always required to say what they are searching for.
  • Freedom of association is restricted by the government`s keeping tabs on alleged "subversive" groups. Security services maintain files on one of every 40 Canadians.
  • Canadian prosecutors are far more likely than their American brethren to bring criminal charges in what we would consider self-defense cases. In Canada, self-protection is not considered a valid reason for owning firearms.
  • Canadian limits on gun ownership for personal protection may have increased some crimes. From 1978 to 1988, the burglary rate increased 25%, surpassing the U.S. rate. Half of Canada`s burglaries are of occupied homes, compared to only 10% in the U.S.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.