It's almost impossible to get to a gun in Japan, and selling one or owning one is a serious crime. Fire the gun? Possibly life imprisonment. Gun-control laws are taken so seriously that police will pursue a violator all the way to the grave — and maybe beyond.

The rationale for this is simple: "Of course, guns don't kill people; people kill people — guns just make it a lot easier to kill a lot of people. That's why Japan bans them and that's why my job was catching people with guns and putting them in jail. Usually, long before they could ever put their finger on the trigger."

Those are the words of a retired Kanto-region police detective with more than 25 years' experience pursuing cases involving violations of the Firearms (& Swords) Control Law. Four of those years were in the Organized Crime Control Division Five, whose sole purpose is to handle drugs or weapons cases, nothing else.