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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 December 12 - 18  > Shooting rampage occurs in Sasebo
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2007 December 12 - 18 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Shooting rampage occurs in Sasebo

December 16, 2007
A shooting rampage occurred on December 14 at a private sports club in Sasebo City in Nagasaki Prefecture, killing a 26-year-old woman and a 36-year-old man and injuring 6 people, including two children.

The suspected gunman, a 37-year-old man, was found dead the next day. He is believed to have committed suicide. Two shotguns and one air gun were reportedly found in his car.

Commenting on the incident on a TV debate program aired on December 15, Japanese Communist Party Policy Commission Chair Koike Akira said, “The recent series of fatal shootings reveal the inability of the authorities to cope with the increase in gun violence. Now is the time to take action to stop gun violence.”

The number of incidents involving gun violence between January and November this year was 54, up 10 from the last year. The January-November death toll was 19, up from the last year’s total of 17. But no effective steps have been taken so far.

According to the National Police Agency, the number of illegal handguns seized by the police decreased from 1,549 in 1996 to 489 in 2005.

The number of crimes committed by persons with firearms they possess with permits is also increasing. Between 2002 and 2006, the number of incidents involving the use of licensed shotguns or rifles was between 3-16 a year. Seven incidents occurred during the first six months of this year.

Sloppy screening of gun ownership is a contributing factor in the increasing number of gun-related crimes and accidents.

For example, a man in Utsunomiya City killed a housewife neighbor with his licensed shotgun in 2002. Surprisingly, only about one month prior to the event, the police had issued a permit to allow his gun ownership.

In the latest case in Sasebo, it has been learned that nearby residents knew that the suspect had guns and that they were frightened by the man’s odd behavior. They often asked police to do something about it, but the police did not take the request seriously, according to reports.

The police and relevant authorities should respond to such concerns seriously and take effective gun control measures. It is particularly an urgent task to crack down on illegal gun ownership and impose stricter standards for issuing gun ownership permits.
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