The Comparison Game: Here’s Why International Gun Control “Success” Examples Always Fall Flat 

Like the sun rises in the east, and infants will always save their diaper blowouts until you’ve put them in their car seat, there’s just some things you can always count on.

It’s like, well, clockwork.

After the tragic shootings in Wisconsin and Maryland over the last few days, like clockwork the gun control narrative raises its head once again. A quintessential part of the narrative, the international comparisons begin. “But look at Australia! But look at Japan! But look at the UK!”

(Ironically I don’t ever seem to see these people resurrect calls for gun control for the umpteenth time when officers, like the ones in Fort Worth and Phoenix are shot. But I’ve digressed)

So are the comparisons justified?

Let’s dig in.

Claim: Japan has almost eradicated gun crime

The short answer is that it’s not false. The island nation, in fact, “rarely sees more than 10 gun deaths a year,” and its application and monitoring process for gun ownership is extremely demanding, making it nearly impossible (at least, not desirable) to own a gun.

It’s also nearly impossible to own a gun in Chicago, and yet 3,500 people were shot there in 2017 alone. Or take Washington D.C., which had an outright ban on guns, during which time homicides actually rose.

So what gives?

For starters, Japan is an anomaly. Violent crime, gun-related or otherwise, is practically non-existent, and in fact the “murder rate is only lower in tiny Monaco and Palau.”

For starters, in Japan, going to jail is a cultural kiss of death.

Indeed, the Japanese culture is very communal, and “places a strong emphasis on ‘preserving honor,’ ‘avoiding shame,’ and ‘generally being honest.’”

The writer continues, “getting angry in public in Japan is considered a major faux pas, and only something that children do.”

There’s a lot more going on there—like a “cultural resistance in Japan to handling the dead, with families often reluctant to insist upon a procedure that invades the body of a loved one” which can preclude an autopsy during which a cause of death would be discovered and officially recorded. More importantly, police in Japan have a vested interest in keeping violent crime low (hint: promotions) and that “police try to avoid adding homicides to their caseload unless the identity of the killer is obvious.”

So in sum, you have a cultural that is not predisposed to violent or drug-related criminal activity, and a police force that doesn’t particularly like to investigate it/report it when it happens.


(For the record, Japan has the second highest suicide rate among industrialized nations, and the sixth highest in the world. That’s a lot of death, guns or not.)

Claim: Australia’s Buyback program was a huge success and it’s what we should do here.

Take another trip with me (if you dare) back to the Windy City, where Mayor Rahm Emmanuel instituted a gun buy-back program to the tune of $250,000 in 2015. Chicago then proceeded to endure two of its bloodiest years, with 4,331 people shot in 2016 and 3,500 people shot in 2017.

Compounding the inadequacy of the program was the fact that, as John Lott pointed out, most of the guns turned in in Chicago were non-functioning anyway.  Further compounding the idiocy, “the gun buyback program can actually help criminals get rid of guns that they have used in crime and to get rid of them in a way that allows them to make some money off them.”

And, if we wing our way down under, two separate research institutions (the University of Melbourne and the British Journal of Criminology, respectively) deemed the results of Australia’s buyback program nil at best. From the University of Melbourne:

“Although gun buybacks appear to be a logical and sensible policy that helps to placate the public’s fears, the evidence so far suggests that in the Australian context, the high expenditure incurred to fund the 1996 gun buyback has not translated into any tangible reductions in terms of firearm deaths.”

In other words, it feels good—but doesn’t really do anything.

Claim: The UK’s gun buyback program was ALSO a huge success.

(See above for why buybacks simply don’t work.)

From the UK Guardian:

“Violent crime in England and Wales is rising at an accelerating pace, according to police figures showing a 22% increase in knife crime and 11% rise in gun crime.”

And what’s the next logical step? Reduce the police force, obviously.

(Seriously, Britain?) 

Here we are, yet again. Example after example after example of banning a tool—and doing nothing to address the user. Is it really surprising at all that people still die at the hands of evil people?


Here’s the bottom line. Gun violence is awful. The gunmen in Wisconsin and Maryland this week are heinous. But the fact remains that the United States ranks #1 in the world for gun ownership, is the third most populous country on earth, and yet it pales in comparison to the world’s most violent nations.

You can go ahead and make the comparisons if you want, but that doesn’t save lives.

Here’s a thought: what if we spent less time teaching our children about alternate genders, how to be perpetually offended, or how to rely on the government for everything—and teach them how to be humble and kind. Teach them how to care for their fellow man; teach them how to fail and get back up; teach them how to deal with difficult people; teach them how to take responsibility for themselves and be self-sufficient.

Teach them right and wrong.

You just might be pleasantly surprised.

Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of (a political commentary blog), and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show. She can be reached at:; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree

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