Pulse.ng logo
Go

Tech People from countries with strict gun control explain how life is different compared to the US

  • Published: , Refreshed:

We spoke with people from countries with tight gun control regulations who have spent time in the US.

A Donald Trump supporter attends a rally with an American flag in the muzzle of his gun on the first day of the Republican National Convention (RNC) on July 18, 2016 in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. play

A Donald Trump supporter attends a rally with an American flag in the muzzle of his gun on the first day of the Republican National Convention (RNC) on July 18, 2016 in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.

(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
24/7 Live - Subscribe to the Pulse Newsletter!

Two recent massacres are reinvigorating a national debate over gun control in the US.

On March 9, Army veteran Albert Wong shot and killed three women who worked at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville. And just over a month ago, lone gunman Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Since then, President Donald Trump stunned Republican lawmakers when he called for comprehensive firearm regulation. The Justice Department has also filed a regulation to ban "bump stocks," a modification to high-capacity rifles that lets them fire like automatic weapons.

Firearm homicides are not a uniquely American problem, but some countries have wildly different approaches when it comes to firearm legislation.

In 1996, twelve days after the worst mass shooting in Australian history, the country passed a sweeping set of gun control regulations. Japan, Sweden, and the UK have similarly strict firearm laws.

Business Insider spoke with five people who grew up in these places and have spent time in the US.

Read about their experiences below.

Mollie Staples, 23, Wales, UK

Mollie Staples (right) and their friend Ed (left). play

Mollie Staples (right) and their friend Ed (left).

(Courtesy of Mollie Staples)

Where did you grow up? When did you come to the US, and where do you live now?

I used to live in Martletwy, a village of 200 people in Wales...then York, which is a small city in the north, and then London.

I moved to Brooklyn, New York in 2016.

What was the gun control landscape like in your hometown?

It feels funny for me to think about a "gun control landscape" in my hometown, because there were literally no guns. I had never seen or held a real gun in my life — including on police — until I went to stay at my aunt's house who lives on a farm in the middle of nowhere and holds pheasant shooting on her land.

In your opinion, how important is gun regulation to the relatively low number of firearm deaths in the UK?

Gun regulation had everything to do with it.

We have white men, violent video games, and mentally ill people, too. We have poverty, gangs, and immigration. We have racist police, we have criminals, we have drugs. We don't have any guns. And the rate of gun violence is tiny by comparison.

How does gun culture and your experience with guns differ in the UK compared to the US?

Being in America is terrifying. My life is in the hands of things I cannot control. I could get shot at any time, and there is no action I can take that will impact that.



Johannes Ledel, 34, Sweden

Johannes Ledel, 34, Sweden play

Johannes Ledel, 34, Sweden

(Courtesy of Johannes Ledel)

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a rural part of Sweden. The closest city to where I lived was a place called Nyköping.

How often do you come to the US? Where do you live now?

I've only visited the US a few times [but] I have been following the gun control debate in the US for some time as a reporter. I currently live in Stockholm.

What was the gun control landscape like in your hometown?

To get a gun or a rifle license [in Sweden], you need to show that you have "a need" for it.

Usually, you need a hunting license or to be a part of a gun club that does target practice. It's very hard for someone to get a license for any kind of semi-automatic weapon, such as the AR-15. And if you get a license, there are laws regulating how you have to store [guns] in special gun cabinets.

Were shootings in schools or public places a concern for you?

Growing up, the thought of a school shooting would have been a very alien concept to me. I was about 14 when the Columbine massacre occurred so I remember hearing the news about it. But even after that, I can't remember ever actually being worried about it happening at the schools I went to.

In your opinion, how important is gun regulation to the relatively low number of firearm deaths in Sweden?

Regulation might have had a role in this, since it obviously makes guns harder to come by.

But I think another part is that there really isn't as much of a gun culture in Sweden. There are of course gun enthusiasts, but it's rare, and you might be considered a bit weird here if you were to talk about guns all the time.

How does gun culture and your experience with guns differ in Sweden compared to the US?

If there are people who have any grievances about the current gun regulation, they aren't making their voices heard in any way. It's definitely possible to get a gun in Sweden if you really want one, but most people don't seem to want one.



Satomi Nakao, 28, Japan

Satomi Nakao, 28, Japan play

Satomi Nakao, 28, Japan

(Courtesy of Satomi Nakao)

Where did you grow up? When did you come to the US, and where do you live now?

I was born and raised in Aichi, Japan. I went to college and worked in Tokyo. I moved to the US when I was 12 years old. I'm currently living in Los Angeles.

What was the gun control landscape like in your hometown? Were shootings in schools or public places a concern for you?

Guns are heavily restricted in Japan and are not a part of everyday life. I've never seen a gun in Japan, and it's not a concern. When I imagine massacres in Japan, the weapons are knives, not guns. The Akihabara massacre was one of the most shocking events that happened when I was living in Tokyo, it but did not involve guns.

Why weren't you worried about gun violence?

I didn't know anyone who owned guns. Police have guns but rarely use them. It becomes news when a police officer open-fires. We see guns in movies, and that's about it.

In your opinion, how important is gun regulation to the relatively low number of firearm deaths in Japan?

Regulation is a very big factor. Gun regulation has been very strict since World War II. Because guns are not a fear, we don't need guns to protect ourselves.

How does gun culture and your experience with guns differ between Japan and the US?

Now that I live in LA, I've experienced gun threats and people getting shot in the neighborhood. I tell these stories to my friends from home, and they think my life is like a movie — but in a bad way. I haven't told my family, because they will probably tell me to come back home.



Norman Quarrinton, 30, England, UK

Norman Quarrinton, 30, England, UK play

Norman Quarrinton, 30, England, UK

(Courtesy of Norm Quarrinton)

Where did you grow up? When did you come to the US, and where do you live now?

I was born and raised in South London. I moved here in 2012, and I currently live in Silver Spring, Maryland.

What was the gun control landscape like in your hometown? Were shootings in schools or public places a concern for you?

There's no British equivalent of the Second Amendment, so guns aren't really a thing that people care about. I've never met a British person who didn't support gun control laws.

I think it's weird that people over here love guns so much. Knives I get. You can do other stuff with a knife. But you can't cut a steak with a f---ing gun — although I'm sure a few people have tried.

In your opinion, how important is gun regulation to the relatively low number of firearm deaths in the UK?

In 1996, a man walked into Dunblane Primary School in Scotland and murdered 18 people with two 9mm Browning HP pistols and two Smith & Wesson Magnums. The government banned handguns after that.

It was difficult for me to comprehend at the time, because I was a kid, but I do remember there being a sense of relief when the government actually did something. The UK currently has very strict gun laws and also has one of the lowest rates of gun homicides in the world. I'm no policy expert, but I'm pretty sure that's not a coincidence.

How does gun culture and your experience with guns differ between the UK and the US?

I went to a concert a few days after the Vegas shooting, and I was definitely on edge. Certain members of my family back home are genuinely worried about me. The UK is far from perfect, and it has plenty of its own issues to deal with — Brexit, anyone? — but it is nice to not have to worry about being shot.



Olivia Whyte, 25, Australia

Olivia Whyte, 25, Australia play

Olivia Whyte, 25, Australia

(Courtesy of Olivia Whyte)

Where did you grow up? When did you come to the US, and where do you live now?

I grew up in Warragul, and then lived for five years in Melbourne. I moved to New York City in 2015.

What was the gun control landscape like in your hometown?

I was very young — 3 years old — when the Port Arthur massacre happened, so I didn't understand it. By the time I was old enough to understand guns, the gun reform laws were in place, and it wasn't something that was talked about in my family. As one of three daughters, guns were not a toy that we were given or interested in until Nerf guns. And after hearing news more often from America about shootings, I was put off by any toys like that.

Were shootings in schools or public places a concern for you?

I think I remember doing one lock-down drill at school in my whole life, so no. Speaking on behalf of my circles, everyone thinks it's a joke that America is so h---bent on keeping their guns.

How does gun culture and your experience with guns differ between Australia and the US?

I had a client meeting at an [American] university last year, and I was anxious the whole time I was on the campus. And every single time I go to a big concert these days, which is quite often, I get anxious about shootings. I always note where the nearest exits are.

These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.