The Samurai, the Mountie, and the Cowboy

The Samurai, the Mountie, and the Cowboy

Professor David Kopel

To many advocates of restrictive firearms laws, the necessity of imitating foreign-style gun control laws is painfully obvious. But surprisingly, there has been little research into how these foreign gun laws work, if they work at all. Even gun prohibition advocates are rarely able to provide more than a paragraph or two of generalised assertions about gun laws in any particular country. So do foreign gun laws work, and would they work if imported into the United States? This was the question I set out to answer as I began research for my book, The Samurai, the Mountie, and the Cowboy: Should America Adopt the Gun Controls of Other Democracies? (Buffalo: Prometheus, 1992).

After examining in-depth the gun control policies of Japan, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, and Switzerland -- and the gun culture in the United States -- it becomes clear that the foreign gun control situation is much more complex than American gun control advocates have assumed.

Among the foreign countries, there is no particular correlation between the severity of gun control and the prevalence of gun crime. Indeed, of the nations studied, the two that are (by far) the safest, have diametrically opposite gun control policies.

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