Twenty years after Mieko Hattori’s 16-year-old son, Yoshihiro, was fatally shot while studying in America, the outspoken mother has once again called for tighter gun control laws in the United States and around the world. Her latest speech was delivered in Baton Rouge, the town where 20 years ago her son went to the wrong house on Halloween night and was killed after the owner pointed a gun at him and told him to “freeze.” When he moved, the owner shot him dead in the driveway.

It takes courage and strength for a Japanese woman to deliver a message that many Americans disagree with. Her commemorative speech in a Baton Rouge church last week was a powerful plea to reconsider the role of guns in society. Whatever one’s opinion on gun ownership, Americans, like Japanese, have to respect her for exercising her right to freedom of speech. Her message may have been rooted in her personal tragedy, but she expressed the broader hope that the U.S. work for a safer society and that all nations work to realize a world free of guns.

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