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HomeWORLDJapan’s Gun Laws Worked So Well They Need to Ban Crossbows

Japan’s Gun Laws Worked So Well They Need to Ban Crossbows

TOKYO—It’s been said that if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns—but that’s not true in Japan, which has some of the strictest laws on the books forbidding the possession of guns, and imposes even harsher penalties for using them. If you fire a gun at someone here, you’re likely to spend more than 20 years in jail. The severe penalties even deter the yakuza, Japan’s organized crime syndicates, from using firearms. In 2017, there were only three people killed by gunshots in the entire nation.

But human beings will always find ways to kill each other and, as it turns out, when you outlaw guns in Japan outlaws will resort to other deadly weapons—like crossbows.


Now, the Japanese government is considering banning most people from buying, selling, or owning these semi-automatic bow and arrows. After a series of horrific crimes using the weapons there are now pending revisions to Japan’s laws which will limit their usage to sports and tranquilizing animals. The new revisions are expected to be passed in the current session of the parliament.

The new laws will be retroactive, so those outlaws out there who were planning malfeasance with their handy crossbows are going to have to turn them in to authorities, or get a permit, or face jail-time. If you were planning to take a shot at being a real-life (homicidal) Green Arrow—think twice. The penalties for using it as a weapon are likely to be severe. However, if you’re using a crossbow for a legitimate purpose—like crossbow shooting—you’ll be allowed to keep it, if you are granted a permit.

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