LETTER: The situation in this country is not normal

As a recent immigrant from Japan, I am simply amazed by this country’s level of gun violence.

You go to school and get shot. You go to church and get shot. You go to the mall and get shot. I feel sad and scared that I am not surprised with these school shootings anymore because there are too many now, and I am getting numb to the news.

I know it is nonsense to compare Japan and the United States. But in Japan, no private citizen can purchase a handgun, to say nothing of an assault rifle. And I really wonder why it is so difficult for this country to ask people who want to buy a gun to get a simple background check before they can buy a gun. To obtain a hunting rifle in Japan, first you have to take a whole day class at a police station (not free). Then you have to see a doctor and get a mental health check. Then you have to take a firearms proficiency and safety test at a police station, and after you pass, you have to register at your local police office. Then a police officer will show up at your neighbor’s house and your work place to ask about you. If you have some family member who is mentally ill, then you cannot get a license.

Our son spent the first two-thirds of his life in five different countries, none of which had anything remotely like the level of gun violence of this country. We picked Vashon to finish his middle and high school partly because we think Vashon is a relatively safe environment to raise a child. Nevertheless, he still experiences lockdown drills instead of earthquake drills here, which only serves to remind us that nowhere is completely safe from this sort of violence. I just want our son and other Americans to realize that this country’s situation is not normal.

— Ayumi Luke

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