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How do U.S. and European voters differ? The three Gs

The panel on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” was discussing the brouhaha over Chris Christie and Rand Paul arguing against mandatory vaccination, and of course the conversation included the idea that this was to some extent an expression of the fundamental distrust and resentment of government in a significant portion of the American electorate.

Host Chuck Todd asked panelist Katty Kay (a Brit who has been based in the United States and anchors the news on BBC America) whether this was one of the key differences between American and European voters. She said it was one of three elements of difference that she calls “the three Gs.”

Kay: “The big divide is god, guns and government. The three Gs… We [meaning Europeans generally] are much more secular. We are much more prone to liking government. And we cannot understand the gun culture in this country. And that’s really what divides us.”

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Comments (55)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/09/2015 - 09:30 am.

    Love that name

    Katty Kay? Really?

    Be that as it may, leave it to those pesky foreigners to view our culture without the blinders that afflict so many in this country…

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 02/09/2015 - 10:44 am.

    The European model

    Due to their history with monarchies, Europeans have been conditioned to believe that all power is derived from the King. In Western Europe especially, power flowed from God to the King, to the people. Even in modern European democracies, they still retain their monarchies out of devotion to the old model.

    The American model stood that on its head. Power flows from God (inalienable rights), to the People, to government. In a constitutional republic that includes democracy, the people award power to government through elections and can take that power away just as easily.

    The 2nd Amendment makes all that possible, whereas the Europeans don’t think in those terms because the King decided who would have power and who wouldn’t and who would have arms and who wouldn’t.

    The 2nd Amendment isn’t about hunting, it’s about who gets to control the republic.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/09/2015 - 02:41 pm.

      It’s not the model

      that’s standing on its head.
      You won’t find the word “God” any place in the Constitution, including the Amendments.
      And what is now the (more or less) United States was a monarchy longer than it was a Republic.

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 02/09/2015 - 04:21 pm.

        But you’ll find God

        mentioned four times in the Declaration, which is when Jefferson explained to the king why the Founders were taking the course they chose and when the American model was born.

        “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”

        That pretty much lays out the difference.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/10/2015 - 09:23 am.

          The difference

          Please tell us what legal force the Declaration of Independence has or had.

          You might also consider the Declaration’s attitudes towards the Native population.

          • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 02/10/2015 - 03:28 pm.

            Legal force

            is not relevant in this conversation. The point is the American model versus the European model was established by the Founders when they declared their independence. The Declaration of Independence was intended to be a rationale for their actions but it also serves to describe how and why the Founders intended to govern differently.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/10/2015 - 03:56 pm.


              You can look through the entire Declaration and see nothing even remotely resembling a description of “how and why the Founders intended to govern differently.” If you have read the Declaration, you know that it is largely a statement of justifications for independence, derived from John Locke and having a practical basis in the failure of the British government. The Declaration refers to deprivations of existing rights, not the establishment of something new, and many here and in England saw the American Revolution in terms of British subjects attempting to secure the rights of all British subjects.

              The “American model” to which to refer may be something different from the “European model (because Europe is one monolithic culture with no national differences). The Declaration of Independence, however, is very much an English document.

  3. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/09/2015 - 10:58 am.

    The fourth G


  4. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/09/2015 - 11:56 am.

    …god, guns and government….

    But weren’t those issues exactly why the US became an independent country?

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/09/2015 - 02:16 pm.

      Game, set and match. Well played sir.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/09/2015 - 02:48 pm.

      Only in the sense that

      the colonists wanted a fair share in the control of government (something about ‘taxation without representation’), and did NOT what the government telling them what kind of relationship (if any) they should have with a deity.
      Guns were not an issue.
      Most people in the agrarian South and West owned guns, but as tools, not as weapons of self defense.
      Most Northern city dwellers (the majority of the population) did not own guns. If they had, the Civil War would have been much shorter. Most blue coats carried government muskets, while the grey mostly used their own hunting weapons.
      I’m not aware that any prerevolutionary government tried to limit gun ownership.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/09/2015 - 02:51 pm.


      If by “God” you mean “avoiding the imposition of religious beliefs by the government,” you might be correct.

      I doubt that the Founders put as much importance on the personal ownership of guns as the Second Amendment crowd likes to think.

      • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/09/2015 - 04:48 pm.

        God: Wouldn’t a desire for religious freedom tend to lead to immigrants more tightly bound to their religion?

        Guns: It would be foolish to think that the founders did not believe that guns were necessary to the maintenance, stability, enlargement and strength of the nation. No standing army and no guns? Unthinkable in that time and place. There can be arguments all day long about “well-regulated militias”, but there was no misunderstanding about “power growing from the barrel of a gun” in a country founded in rebellion.

        Government: Convicts, criminals, refugees, persecuted, enslaved, disenfranchised, misfits, freedom seekers, dissenters, deserters, debtors, opportunists, and their kind make up a large portion of the population of any new country. And you think these people didn’t want to be have minimal government?

        God, guns, and government–perhaps the differences are really in our DNA.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/09/2015 - 08:20 pm.

          There was no

          standing army.
          That was one of Washington’s biggest problems — keeping volunteer state militias in the field.
          And while some of the early (15th century) immigrants came over for religious reasons (they had the sort end of the stick in England so they wanted to go someplace where -they- could tell other people how to worship) by the 18th century economics was the main factor.

          • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/10/2015 - 07:36 am.

            You misunderstand what I said.

            • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/10/2015 - 09:43 am.

              You said

              ” No standing army and no guns? Unthinkable in that time and place.”
              Please elucidate.

              • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/10/2015 - 01:07 pm.

                If the idea was to have no standing army, the founders were not so naive that they would not have considered the need to have at least a dispersed peoples army armed with something other than pitchforks and scythes.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/10/2015 - 09:22 am.


          God: There is freedom of religion, and freedom from religion. There was no unified thought on religion at the time. The Puritans of New England had little in common, theologically, with the louche Anglicans of Virginia; some colonies had official religions, some (Pennsylvania, Rhode Island) eschewed the idea altogether. It is also hardly worth the trouble to discuss the anti-religious views of Messrs. Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, et al.

          Guns: Gun ownership was not something taken for granted. Obtaining arms–including small arms, such as rifles–was a constant preoccupation. The Americans had to go through elaborate machinations to buy British-made rifles from Dutch intermediaries.

          Government: The influence of the rapscallions you rattle off is grossly exaggerated (the “enslaved?” Really?). The Constitution was drafted by men of means and men of property. Protecting their business interests was a great concern for them, and the Constitution reflects that concern. Whatever the disenfranchised misfits may have thought, their opinions did not count for a lot.

          • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/10/2015 - 09:45 am.


            was originally Catholic, hence its name.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/10/2015 - 10:14 am.

              Umm, not exactly

              Maryland was founded by the Roman Catholic Calvert family, but the colony was officially neutral in religion until the early 18th century, when the Church of England became the official religion.

              The only Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence–Charles Carroll of Carrollton–was so reticent about displaying his faith that he worshiped in a private chapel on his estate.

              • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/10/2015 - 11:40 am.


                Being ‘officially neutral’ made it one of the few colonies where one could actually practice Catholicism.

  5. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 02/09/2015 - 03:08 pm.

    Much importance?

    That’s right – it is called the 2nd amendment not the first amendment.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/09/2015 - 04:02 pm.


      I’m not sure what you’re getting at. The order the Amendments appear in the Constitution has nothing to do with their relative importance, but it reflects the original proposal to incorporate amendments into the text of the Constitution, rather than add them on later. The text of the Second Amendment was to be incorporated into Article I, sec. 9.

      The original “first amendment” related to apportionment of seats in Congress after a census and was never ratified. The original second amendment is now the 27th Amendment.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/10/2015 - 08:23 am.

        1st or 100th, it’s an article of the US constitution. It is the law of the land. It is not going to be repealed. It is not going to be modified.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/10/2015 - 11:03 am.

          It is an “article”

          It is also horribly misconstrued. Its current interpretation is misguided and absurd (at best) public policy.

          Just because it’s in the Constitution, doesn’t make it a good thing.

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/10/2015 - 02:14 pm.

            I’m sorry RB. It’s an article of the Constitution. With or without your leave, it’s the law of the land.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/10/2015 - 03:15 pm.


              It’s an “amendment.” Articles are different.

              I never denied it was the law. I don’t, however, have to like it.

              • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/10/2015 - 07:02 pm.

                You object to

                the maintenance of a well regulated militia?

                • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/11/2015 - 09:01 am.


                  I object to the current interpretation of the Second Amendment, which holds that virtually anyone in this country can carry a lethal weapon. That is a far cry from a “well-regulated militia.”

                  • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/11/2015 - 09:40 am.


                    After 250 years, the current Supreme Court redefined it in its current contorted terms.
                    Up until then, the existence of a National Guard was interpreted as meeting the requirements of maintaining a well regulated militia stated in the 2nd Amendment.

                    Some history:
                    What worried the prerevolutionary South was slave revolts.
                    They wanted to be assured that they would maintain the right to raise state militias independently of the national army to put down any slave revolts.

  6. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/09/2015 - 06:49 pm.

    While most would like to think their ancestors periwigged, white silk stockings, embroidered waist-coat, discussing the rights of man while dancing a mean minuet, it usually wasn’t so.

    For the great majority of the history of America (not just of the USA), most people lived very close to the ragged edge of the unknown, with little money, education and resources. Basic survival was the day-to-day imperative.

    Many had a bible for one of their few cultural resources. Many relied on a gun for food, protection (and yes, offence). Government had little role or effect in their lives.

    The “modern” world is only a few generations upon us. The current attitudes about god, guns and government are the skeleton of a larger past than is being recognized.

    And, it should not be discounted that the attitudes toward god, guns and government were some of the most powerful basis’ of the hero-mythology of the US.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 02/12/2015 - 07:52 pm.

      “The ragged edge of the unknown”

      Great “descriptive phrase”! And accurate as can be, no doubt…

      Dancing a mean minuet on the ragged edge of the unknown, Wigget, the newcomer, gazed into the crisp autumn night sky and saw the loaf of fresh-baked bread cooling on the table as the rabbit stew simmered in the cast iron kettle atop the soul-warming stove in the corner of the humble cozy home in which he did not live.

      I find myself wanting to go on to the part where, much to his surprise and incomprehension, he sees a nuclear submarine pop up in the moonlight in the bay below him, and the man in the rubber raft that comes ashore, climbs the ridge, and explains his and his descendants future, how and where he and they can get some guns and slaves, and what and who they should vote for along the way, but I better not.

      But that’s what those two short “phrases” made me think.

      Thanks. It was fun.

  7. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/09/2015 - 08:55 pm.

    I vote for

    … the 4th G. Thank you, Mr. Brandon.

    God was specifically and purposefully left out of the Constitution, since those periwigged guys meeting at the Constitutional Convention were keen observers of what happened with state-sponsored or state-sanctioned religion in Europe. They wanted no part of it.

    While I personally regard the 2nd Amendment as one of the few serious errors of those same periwigged gentlemen, it’s also true that, try as we might, we’re all prisoners of the time period in which we live, and when the Constitution was being written, not only was there some justified suspicion of government, guns were so commonplace in a society at the edge of a vast and unknown wilderness (native settlement didn’t count as “settlement” with our European ancestors) that guns were regarded primarily as tools, for both food acquisition and self-defense (and the occasional duel). Only in very recent years have they come to be regarded as sacred objects.

    As for government, while there was certainly some suspicion of government power – Patrick Henry made speeches AGAINST the adoption of the Constitution – Americans, while often thought crazy by our European brethren, have generally not been regarded as stupid.

    A few years with the Articles of Confederation provided ample time for citizens of the new nation to realize that there came a point when fragmentation of government power became counterproductive. Recognizing the fatal flaw in “every man for himself” as a style of government is why we have a Constitution.

    It’s also worth pointing out that the first thing done by pioneers who crossed the prairies in the mid-19th century was to register their settlement on… wait for it… government land grants in California and the Pacific Northwest. The Homestead Act made that process easier in those and other territories, especially after the Civil War established the supremacy of the national government over the states. The second thing settlers did was to organize a territorial government, usually modeled after the existing government in Washington. The third thing was to petition the federal government for aid, either in the form of troops to engage the perceived threat of native inhabitants who resented their land being taken without compensation, or in the form of funding and/or public works to make settlement easier and/or more profitable.

    In other words, there’s no evidence on the record to suggest that the vast majority of Americans were opposed to government, or even to STRONG government. The vast majority of the historical evidence suggests, at most, that we’re ambivalent. When it serves our personal interests, we ALL like strong government.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/10/2015 - 08:00 am.

      The issue is, with respect to government:

      The typical monarchical, sometime tyrannical, governments of Europe have moved toward more democratic, inclusive systems over the past couple of centuries.

      Contrast that to the US, where the presence and influence of national government had always been slight, pretty much up to the civil war, and has since intensified in its importance, influence and control.

      We (Europe and the US) may be arriving at the same point, but from different directions, resulting in different perceptions of the desirability of the result.

      Denying and ignoring the facts of history and the nature of a country that was not yet fully formed until the 20th century is a disservice. Our history is what it is.

      What can be said with certainty is that America was the new home of many unsatisfied trouble-makers with strong beliefs, who had the incredible gumption to get up and go to an entirely new and different place to build something from nothing.

      That is what forms the historical DNA of the country and also forms the root of today’s issues.

      But remember, even more important than facts, are the cultural mythologies that are sustained in a population.

      And those do most certainly revolve around god, guns and government.

  8. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/09/2015 - 11:41 pm.

    All are equal

    At least Katty Kay did not make a judgment if European approach to the three G’s is better than American one. It seems that everyone else did and assumed that she meant that European one is better. But isn’t a common knowledge that no culture is better than the other?

    I also wonder if that generic Europeans’ liking of the government had lead to fascism. As for weapons, Europeans rely on Americans for their defense since WWII…

  9. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/10/2015 - 07:51 am.


    In my own view, iwas the key differences between American and European governments are rooted in the issue of slavery. Slavery was the central issue at the Constitutional Convention, and our form of government was the result. Basically, the south was terrified that a strong central government would have the power one day to abolish slavery. Their fears were not unjustified; the strong British Parliament peacefully abolished slavery only a few decades later. The response to these fears was to create a system of checks and balances which would effectively give the south a veto power over national legislation. They were successful in this victory of process over substance, but substance has a way of prevailing in the long run. The result of the South’s procedural jury rigging was the failure of the constitution a mere seventy year later, the result being the most catastrophic war in our history. We are still living in that constitutional wreckage today.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 02/12/2015 - 10:57 pm.


      “The response to these fears was to create a system of checks and balances which would effectively give the south a veto power over national legislation.”


      “We are still living in that constitutional wreckage today.”

      For me, this is one of those, “Please… Don’t get me started,” topics, so it would be better if I (mostly) just let it go for now.

      But I read a (business) book one time in which the author said, “The chicken is just something the egg uses to create another egg,” in reference to something having to do with the way in which DNA works (as in you and I are just something our DNA uses to perpetuate itself).

      I mention that – in relation to this topic – because I’ve seen “DNA” used more than once in this thread in relation to the “American Makeup.” And when it comes to that, and what you had to say, and in terms that are overly simplistic, no doubt, it seems to me there are two strains of DNA at-play in America today:

      Those “born of the strain” that has never gotten over the idea, and more importantly, the reality, that someone, that some (organized) group of people, that anyone or anything, could interfere with their “God-given Inalienable Right” to maximize their state of well-being through whatever means available and (importantly) get away with it; and

      Those born of the strain that makes them think, feel, believe that it is NOT okay for human beings to engage in the kind of things that slavery consisted of (see don’t get me started above) to maximize their (and their heirs) state of well-being.

      “The Union be DAMNED if that’s what it takes to re-establish our Rights. Some things are just more imPORdant!!!”

      Sound, feel or seem familiar?

      Lots of nasty resentment “vibes” flying around these days, no?

      Lots of “apparent payback going down,” wouldn’t you say?

      But then, in the “Hope” and “Keep on keepin’ on” department, you said:

      “They were successful in this victory of process over substance, but substance has a way of prevailing in the long run.”

      Here’s to the long run.

  10. Submitted by Colin Brownlow on 02/10/2015 - 08:21 am.

    And yet more sweeping assertions

    Mr. Tester, before you make these sweeping assertions, please check your facts. Yes some European democracies have chosen to retain their monarchies. But lets be clear some pretty major European democracies have not – France (proudly republican), Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Ireland among them.

    As to the second amendment – can you at least accept that there are vibrant democracies throughout the world, including our neighbor to the north who have no such thing. Vibrant democracies without any acknowledgement of gun rights in their constitutions. Can you not also accept that many people in these democracies see the devotion to firearms as incomprehensible and more than a little frightening.

  11. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/10/2015 - 08:28 am.

    It’s just silly to compare US and European citizens.

    Americans distinguish themselves as uniquely un-European. Our history as a nation shares nothing in common with Europe, and to this day, the majority of Americans would bristle at many of the yokes Europeans gladly don.

    Indeed, if Europe has anything to teach us about private ownership of weapons, it is the suffering that ensues when that right is taken away.

    • Submitted by Colin Brownlow on 02/10/2015 - 09:59 am.

      And that is just flat wrong.

      We share nothing in common with Europe. Come on. The US revolution and subsequent constitution where largely products of the European enlightenment. Our common law and basic principles of our criminal justice system are British. The organization of our financial markets was British. The organization of our military, particularly in the latter part of the 19th through the early 20th century was based on German military doctrine. The inspiration and much of the substance of thinks like our worker’s compensation system for injured workers was taken from the German system established under Bismarck. Those are just a few examples.

      In regard to your last sentence – just what basis do you have for making that statement. Let’s look at the UK, where there has been increasingly tight restriction on gun ownership. Just how has that resulted in “suffering”. There may be some ticked off former gun owners, but suffering – I rather doubt it.

    • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 02/10/2015 - 10:59 am.

      Simply amazing, Mr. Swift …

      “Americans distinguish themselves as uniquely un-European.”

      Perhaps in South Carolina. But in Minnesota most people are more than tolerant of Europe and the good things we have because of it. French bread and Scandinavians, for example.

      Also better health care and fewer guns. Which leads to less deaths by guns and lower rate of infant mortality.

      “many of the yokes Europeans gladly don”

      I guess you mean vacations, single payer health care, and a better education system.

      And of course we have long-standing diplomatic ties to Europe including NATO.

      Suffering from lack of private ownership of guns? Tell that to the parents of kids slaughtered in the US by guns.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/10/2015 - 01:14 pm.

        Bill, did I say Americans weren’t tolerant of Europeans? Don’t think I did. (French bread?)

        I thought vacations were the work of trade labor unions, but you say Europe gave them to us? How? Did they come with the Statue of Liberty as a package deal?

        And please, do tell us how Minnesotan tolerance for Europe has you owning “fewer guns”.

        • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 02/10/2015 - 06:10 pm.

          You have a problem with

          misquoting people, Mr. Swift.

          “I thought vacations were the work of trade labor, unions, but you say Europe gave them to us.”

          I said no such thing.

          Please stop misquoting me. This is not twitter.

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 02/10/2015 - 11:01 am.

      I’ve lived in Japan, where it is essentially impossible

      for a civilian to own a gun. Even hunters have to join a gun club, which keeps its weapons under lock and key when not used for hunting. Yes, the organized criminals known as the yakuza have guns, mostly smuggled in, but they use them almost entirely on one another and leave civilians alone.

      Remember that this is a country that has known tyranny–real tyranny, as in being imprisoned and killed for saying the wrong thing–in living memory.

      I speak Japanese well enough to make my living as a translator, and I have never heard any adult wish for a gun, either in daily conversation or in the media. There have been a couple of cases in which teenage boys tried to steal guns from the police, but hey, that’s teenage boys with macho fantasies doing dumb things, not any mass movement for gun ownership.

      Japanese people tend to think that the American obsession with guns is just plain insane. Occasionally, Japanese people go berserk and try to be mass murderers, but since they’re limited to knives or scissors or razor blades, they rarely end up with more than one or two victims.

      I was in Norway precisely at the time when of the mass shootings in 2011. The news came over the radio while I was visiting an expatriate friend at a mountain cabin along with several Norwegians. In the discussions that followed, I learned that Norway has very loose gun laws. Nearly every household in the rural areas owns one or more guns. Hardly anyone in the urban areas does.

      The reactions I saw when I moved on to Oslo were striking. I inadvertently found myself caught up in a 500,000-person silent march through the streets, along with Norwegians of every age and economic status, including some dark-skinned people who looked Asian or Middle Eastern. The following day, I happened upon a group of scary-looking bikers assembling in front of the city hall. When I asked the least scary-looking one what was going on, he explained that they were having their own memorial procession. And off they went. I saw sorrow and bewilderment, since Breivik had single-handedly killed more people than are murdered in Norway in an average year, but no calls for revenge or for arming the populace except in comments in American newspapers that I read online.

      Some of the American commenters referred to the Norwegians with epithets like “liberal wimps” and “socialist do-gooders,” but they forgot that Norway, too, has known real tyranny in the form of German occupation during World War II. Between their brave and ingenious resistance to the Nazis and their present-day devotion to outdoor activities in all weather, the Norwegians are some of the least wimpy people on the planet.

      I see gun worship as akin to another undesirable American trait, anti-intellectualism. That is, when one is living off the land on the frontier, it is more important to know how to hunt for your own dinner and build shelter out of available materials (logs, sod) than how to read and write. But in today’s world, both guns and ignorance are dysfunctional rather than desirable.

      I’m old enough to have seen gun worship intensify over the years. When I was in high school in the 1960s, one of the history teachers, a hunter (we saw the deer carcasses hanging in his yard every year) and a member of the American Legion, remarked that he couldn’t understand why anyone would need a pistol, since the only purpose of a pistol was to kill people.

      Like religious fanaticism, gun fanaticism came into its own in the 1980s. I see both as having been deliberately cultivated by the right wing and eagerly adopted by people who are harmed and confused by the trickle-down class warfare that has been waged since the Reagan administration. Convince them that anyone left of Fox News is a servant of the devil, convince them that the dark-skinned people are out to get them, and you can pick their pockets with impunity.

      • Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/10/2015 - 01:47 pm.

        Nicely done

        Well said, Ms. Sandness.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/10/2015 - 02:34 pm.

        Karen, you’ve evidently not been apprised of the hugely popular and uniquely Japanese “gun tourist” trade.

        California and Hawaii are also popular destinations for Japanese people to display their anti-intellectual sides.

        • Submitted by jason myron on 02/10/2015 - 06:33 pm.


          there are all kinds of illicit “tourist trades.” Are you sure you want to stumble down this road?

        • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 02/10/2015 - 07:56 pm.

          Tsk, tsk, Mr. Swift

          you missed so many relevant quotations in your link.

          Just a few examples:

          ‘It was such a feeling of power,’ Keigo Takizawa, a 30-year-old Japanese actor, said after blasting holes in a paper target with a shotgun, a .44 magnum and a Smith & Wesson revolver at Guam’s Western Frontier Village gun club.

          ‘But,’ he said, ‘I still don’t think anyone should be allowed to have one of their own.’

          Many Japanese see America’s gun culture as both frightening and fascinating because the only people with handguns in their society are in the military, the police or criminals.

          Because firearms are so hard to find in Japan, gun-related crime is extremely rare. They were used in only seven murders in the country – a nation of about 130 million people – in 2011. In the US, by contrast, with 315 million people, there are more than 11,000 gun-related killings annually.

          ‘When most Japanese people think of American culture, one of the first things they think of is guns,’ said Natsue Matsumoto, a 38-year-old Osaka woman who said she enjoyed shooting so much she was back at a range for the second time in three days.

          ‘American movies and video games are full of guns and that’s appealing, in a frightening sort of way,’ she said, ‘but I think Japan has it right. ‘If you don’t have a gun, you can’t kill someone with it.’


          And I didn’t see a single Japanese arguing in the article you cited, Mr Swift, that current gun regulations in Japan should be changed, because the benefits are so obvious.

        • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 02/10/2015 - 08:55 pm.

          And Americans pay money to go to big game farms

          That doesn’t mean that they want to have elephants and zebras in their streets.

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/15/2015 - 09:24 am.

            With respect, Karen, your cheering section may be forgiven their ignorance, but one would expect someone who claims to be so well versed in Japanese culture to know better.

            “The Japanese and American ways of thinking about crime, privacy, and police powers are so different — and Japan is such a generally peaceful country — that it’s functionally impossible to fully isolate and compare the two gun control regiments.

            It’s not much easier to balance the costs and benefits of Japan’s unusual approach, which helps keep its murder rate at the second-lowest in the world, though at the cost of restrictions that Kopel calls a “police state,” a worrying suggestion that it hands the government too much power over its citizens. After all, the U.S. constitution’s second amendment is intended in part to maintain “the security of a free State” by ensuring that the government doesn’t have a monopoly on force.”


            • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 02/15/2015 - 06:01 pm.

              The Japanese aren’t the only ones who are horrified by

              America’s gun culture. Ask anyone in Europe or Canada, and they will think we’re downright cuckoo about guns.

              I’ve actually lived in Japan. Mr. Swift, and I wouldn’t mind doing so again if I could figure out how. The Japanese do a lot of things that right-wingers consider impossible or undesirable, including providing a high level of K-12 education for their entire population (and yes, they do have people who aren’t very bright as well as highly intelligent people, contrary to the stereotype), ensuring government-paid health care for catastrophic and chronic conditions (I know Americans who developed such conditions while living there who cannot move back here, because for so many years they were uninsurable in this country) and low-cost health care for routine conditions, building some of the best public transit and intercity rail systems in the world, and thinking ahead about how to meet the challenges that their country will face in the future, such as an aging population and global warming.

              Are they perfect? No, and a lot of things are worse since Japan ditched its traditional business models for “international” (i.e. cutthroat American) business standards, throwing a lot of older employees out of work and shutting off career paths for younger people. But unlike China, everyday life does not feel oppressive. Rather, the culture emphasizes collective responsibility (I know, “collective” is a dirty word for right-wingers), and much of what may seem oppressive to a foreigner is societal rather than governmental. It’s not the government that will cramp your style; in most cases, it’s the neighborhood busybodies. If you commit a crime, you disgrace not only yourself but also your family, friends, and community.

              When I first moved into my apartment in Tokyo, a policeman from the neighborhood kôban came around to register me. The purpose is partly to know whom to dig out of the rubble if there is a major earthquake but also to figure out if any shady characters are moving in. The cops from the kôban regularly patrolled the neighborhood on bicycles. Since it was a middle-class residential neighborhood with a little commercial district, there wasn’t a lot of crime anyway, and the main functions of the kôban (most kôban, really) were to provide directions in a city with no street names and to act as a lost-and-found center.

              If Japan were the only country with a low rate of violent crime, you might have a point, but just about any place in Western Europe has a lower rate of violent crime. In fact, the U.S. has more violent crime than any of the other G-8 countries and the highest rate of gun violence by far.

            • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 02/15/2015 - 06:07 pm.

              By the way, the article you cite, far from being pro-gun

              ends on this note:

              “…Though it’s worth considering another police state here: Tunisia, which had the lowest firearm ownership rate in the world (one gun per thousand citizens, compared to America’s 890) when its people toppled a brutal, 24-year dictatorship and sparked the Arab Spring.”

              I suspect that if our government ever became tyrannical, especially if its targets were unpopular groups, a lot of the gun fanatics would jump in to help them eliminate the “undesirables.” After all, it happened in the former Yugoslavia. The atrocities were based on a government-formulated ideology, but there were plenty of ad hoc groups of civilians out there “helping” with the “ethnic cleansing” of their regions.

  12. Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 02/10/2015 - 10:02 am.

    Nothing in common with Europe?

    Outside of the Americas being entirely colonized by Europeans, we share a lot of the same values of western freedom, our judicial system is based on English common law, the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France (an historical ally, who helped us gain independence from England), a lot of our major cities and states are named after European locales (New York/Amsterdam? New Orleans? New Jersey? New England? L’Etoile Du Nord?), plus we’ve engaged in two world wars with our European allies, not to mention that whole cold-war thing where the US and Europe stood in start contrast to the Soviet Union. Heck, our nation’s Capitol is in the “District of Columbia,” named for an Italian explorer who was hired by Spain. Catholicism, Lutheranism and Judaism weren’t Native American religions either… so, we have a LOT in common with Europe.

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