The shooting rampage last week in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, is shocking. A gunman in camouflage gear entered a sports club and fired a shotgun more than a dozen times, killing two people and injuring six others, including two children. Later, the gunman killed himself with the same gun on the grounds of a Catholic church where as an infant he had been baptized. The nation hasn’t seen this type of crime before. One wonders whether Japan is about to become a society plagued by rampant gun crimes. Sasebo citizens will need a time to recover from the horror.

It is alarming that a licensed shotgun was used in the shootings. In July 2002, the gunman first received a license to use a shotgun for sports from the Nagasaki Prefectural Public Safety Commission. By September 2007, he had received licenses for two more shotguns and an air gun, for the purpose of hunting and sports. One wonders whether anyone should be allowed to keep four guns in Japanese society. Police examine anyone who applies for a gun license, including checking records of previous crime and mental illness. The applicant also must undergo a short training course.

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