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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Special: Global Lessons On Guns. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired August 10, 2019 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A deadly mass shooting at a very crowded Walmart store.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to just find my mom.
Somebody tell me where she is.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST (voice-over): Dayton.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There has been another mass shooting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 29 people are dead in a 15-hour time span.
ZAKARIA: Las Vegas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. history.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody get down! Get down! Get down!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three tense horrifying hours.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All units. All units.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got bodies here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 27 people lost their lives. 20 of them are young children.
ZAKARIA: These horrific events have come to define the United States the most recent figure show that every day on average more than 100 people were killed with a gun in America. In total, there were more than 14,000 gun murders and nearly 24,000 gun suicides in 2017. Compared to other rich countries, America's gun violence is on another planet.
The U.S. had nine times as many gun homicides for 100,000 people as Canada did. Almost 40 times as many as Germany and over 70 times as many as the United Kingdom. These other countries all face the same big challenges with mental health. They all have the same incredibly violent video games. And other nations pale in comparison to the United States when it comes to gun violence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another shooting, another angry young man. We have seen too many tragedies like this.
ZAKARIA: So, can Americans learn something from other countries on this crucial issue? This is how we are going to travel the world to look for solutions. We'll visit a country that shares America's love for guns if gun violence rates there are a fraction of American levels. We'll visit another nation where liberals and conservatives actually reach an agreement on gun control and afterwards shootings plummeted.
But first, let's start right here in the U.S. where an entire amendment to the Constitution concerns guns. But does that amendment truly means what the NRA and others have recently led us to believe?
"A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
Those 27 words and three commas constitute the entirety of the Second Amendment. No disrespected to James Madison. But grammarians and their red pens would have a field day with the sentence. No one is exactly sure what the first clause about the militia has to do with the clause about the right to bear arms. For almost 200 years, the puzzlement over the meaning was barely an issue.
But then in the 1970s, new leadership took over the NRA and made the group's mission to protect every citizen's right supposedly enshrined the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms.
[22:05:09] This caused former chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Warren Burger. A conservative jurist appointed by Richard Nixon to say the following on PBS in 1991.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN BURGER, FORMER CHIEF JUSTICE OF U.S. SUPREME COURT: This has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud. I repeat the word fraud on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: So, what to make of the Second Amendment and what to do about it?
Joining me now is Michael Waldman, the president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU and the author of "The Second Amendment: A Biography" and Jeffrey Toobin, staff writer for "The New Yorker" and chief analyst here at CNN.
Michael, so when Warren Burger says that. He was in a sense expressing the view of the long continuity of American law which had felt that the Second Amendment did not confer on equivocal rights to bear arms to every individual.
MICHAEL WALDMAN, PRESIDENT, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE: That's exactly right. He was reflecting the conventionalism of centuries. It was only a decade ago that the Supreme Court in the Heller case said that there was an individual right reflected in the Second Amendment. Those well-regulated militias which are foreign to us were actually quite important to the founders. They believe they were a bulwark against tyranny. And they were worried that the big strong new central government might crush these state military forces. But they were unlike anything we have now. Every --
ZAKARIA: So to be clear, what you are saying is that, that was meant to be a way for states to organize militias for themselves so those militias could have arms -- could be armed and the federal government -- in a sense it had almost nothing to do with an individual person privately owning an arm.
WALDMAN: Well you had an individual right to gun ownership to fulfill your duty to serve in the militia. Every adult white man was required by law to serve in the militia and required to own military weapon and keep it at home.
ZAKARIA: What I am struck by, Jeff, is when you read the book in detail, the various gun control laws where we would now call gun control laws, there were lots in Texas in the 1880s and 1890s, and most important -- particularly by the 1930s in the Roosevelt administration. There were slew of them all upheld by the Supreme Court.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: All upheld and actually not even really much debated on constitutional grounds. When there have been discussions throughout the 20th century about whether it is a good idea to limit gun ownership, what kind of guns should be regulated. But those were policy disputes, the idea that the Constitution for gun control is a relatively new idea and one that was pushed with enormous vigor and ultimately great success by the National Rifle Association.
ZAKARIA: So, a lot of people even who will accept the premise. Look, this is happening because we have a lot of guns and that's the one thing that distinguishes America from every other country. They say well, but we can't do anything because of the Second Amendment. What would you say to them?
WALDMAN: I think it is pretty clear that the Constitution is not a bar to strong sane gun laws. In the last 10 years, about a thousand cases of considered gun laws under this new interpretation of the Second Amendment. Democratic judges, Republican judges, state courts, federal courts overwhelmingly they've upheld those laws. That's because the Heller decision said you know it is an individual right but there are restrictions as well. It actually mentioned some that said that unusually dangerous weapons for example certainly could be barred.
And courts have understood that we have rights and we have responsibilities and that they have to find a way to balance them even things like assault weapon bans. All other kinds of proposals have been upheld by the courts. They're letting this consensus at least so far. It is not the Constitution. It is not the interpretation of the Constitution. It is a broken political system and political will that stands in the way, I believe. That may change but that's the way it is right now.
ZAKARIA: What do you think of the realistic prospects? What are we looking at going forward on this issue?
WALDMAN: I think we don't know and we may be in the new era, focused, effective, angry cohort of people who care about this and want stronger gun laws. It has always been broad support for stronger gun laws add and flows but it has always been much shallow than the intensity of the NRA and its supporters. It may well be that young people, a whole group of them just don't get why they should not think big.
[22:10:03] Just as with the #MeToo movement, just as with marriage equality, we can have a social change that can happen fast and which compromises that same sensible or necessary to older people suddenly don't seem that way but of course we don't know.
TOOBIN: Count me as more skeptical of the future prospects of the gun safety movement. Remember the structure of our government. Small - it's unpopulated -- lesser populated states like Arizona, Utah, Oklahoma, have the same number of the United States senators as California and New York do who have millions more people. As long as the rural interests are over represented in our government in Congress, I think any sort of movement towards gun control is going to face a very uphill battle.
ZAKARIA: Next up is some sort of mental health crisis responsible for many of America's mass shootings? That's what many say. I will ask the experts when we come back.
ZAKARIA (voice-over): A very horrific weekend here in the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Massive shootings in opposite parts of the country within 13 hours.
ZAKARIA: After back-to-back shootings in El Paso and Dayton, President Trump again took on the mantle of consoler-in-chief and he offered this solution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: It is becoming all too common refrain in times of crisis.
[22:15:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The difficult issue of mental health.
It makes you sick to look at it. But he was a very, very mentally ill person.
I think that mental health is a problem here.
Mentally ill, mentally disturbed, it is a mental problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Mental health. It is a topic that comes up after almost every shooting when the police, the neighbors, the media are searching for answers.
In some shootings like the Parkland case where 14 students and three adults were killed in a Florida high school, mental health was an issue. Shooter Nikolas Cruz lawyers claim he had a chronic battle with mental illness. But overall, let us look at some basic statistics.
America's rate of annual gun suicide is seven times the European Union's average. Its gun homicide rate is 20 times higher. Surely it doesn't have seven or 21 times the amount of mental illness as in Europe. And then there is this, an FBI report that studied 63 active shooting cases from 2000 to 2013 and found that only 25 percent of the shooters have ever been diagnosed with mental illnesses, so where is the disconnect?
Well, joining me now are two distinguished doctors. Dr. Amy Barnhorst is the vice chair of Community Psychiatry at UC Davis and of course, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a CNN's chief medical correspondent and a neurosurgeon at Emory Clinic.
Amy, let me ask you. Explain to us how to think about this. At some level, I suppose, people assume that somebody goes in and kills a whole bunch of people, particularly children, innocents in any event is by definition, insane.
DR. AMY BARNHORST, VICE CHAIR OF COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH, UC DAVIS: Yes. It is really hard to sit here and say that those guys were paragons to physiological wellness. Obviously, there's something going on in their mind that makes them different than other people.
But I think it is important to differentiate between who has an actual mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder or even depression and somebody who is angry, entitled, narcissistic and harbors in a labyrinth revenge fantasy against their peers. They may not be psychologically well but that's not exactly a mental illness. And when we talk about people with mental illness being violent that's not the people we're talking about.
ZAKARIA: Sanjay, you've studied this stuff for so long and you have traveled to so many different countries. When you hear people say, oh, it must be that we have a mental health problem in America that's why we have so many gun deaths. What's your reaction?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's simply not true. I mean you look at the mental health rates and you can start to really dig down the numbers and perhaps when it comes to certain things like depression of the United States, maybe the most depressed country in the world. It depends on how you look at some of those data but not 10 times as high as you said Fareed.
I mean guns clearly are the distinguishing factor here. And you know the vast majority of the gun deaths are suicides. Two-thirds of these gun deaths are suicides. So we get a lot of attention when you know Parkland or something like that happens. But there are hundreds of these gun deaths a day and the vast majority of these are people who are actually killing and harming themselves.
ZAKARIA: When you look at suicides, it is fair to say, is it not that one of the distinguishing features in America is -- are suicides are more successful in general. I mean, obviously, it is terrible and anyone who's trying to commit suicide has a problem but if you are doing it with a knife or rope, pills versus a gun, the ladder is more likely to be effective.
GUPTA: I mean it is frightening really to think about you know we both see these in the emergency rooms and as well and these patients are coming in so it's grim. But just to give you a little bit of context, 90 percent roughly, success rates if you are using a firearm, with pills, 1-2 percent success rate. So it is not even close.
ZAKARIA: When you think about - if you would try to device some kind of policy that was fair to the person who has mental illness, fair to the community. What would be the best way to go about it?
BARNHORST: Most of these young men don't have history of mental health treatments or illness. And they don't necessarily meet the criteria to be involuntarily committed into mental health system. There is this gap that they fall into between mental health treatment and criminal justice treatment.
So, what a lot of states are doing now, are passing what are called extreme risk protection laws, also known as red flag laws. California passed one that went into effect in 2016. Washington, Oregon had since passed. And then since Parkland, a number of other states have passed these laws as well because it seems like something that they would have been able to implement in Florida before this young man went into the high school.
ZAKARIA: Do you -- when you look at - when they share this, do you say to yourself you know at the end of the day, still the big issue remains the way we regulate guns rather than the way we treat people mentally.
[22:20:07] BARNHORST: I do think it is because there are so many different people in this country who have the same set of characteristics as these angry young men who turn out to be mass shooters. And many of them don't go on to do that. And in other countries, I have to assume, there are similar people with very similar characteristics. The thing that really is the last step between, you know, not being a mass shooter and being a mass shooter is having access to high capacity weapons that enable you to kill a lot of people quickly.
ZAKARIA: And you know we have cases you reported on some of them in China and India, somebody with a mental condition goes into a school but he has a knife.
GUPTA: That's right.
ZAKARIA: And so maybe one person dies, maybe none.
GUPTA: It is a completely different scenario. You know, Fareed, when I started doing this sort of work back in 2001, this did not seem like as big issue. We did not train for mass casualties within our training program. If it was a mass casualties because of a bus accident, that's what we train for blunt trauma. Now, the idea that really any city in America, you can suddenly have dozens, perhaps patients coming in with penetrating gunshot injuries is a totally different scenario now.
ZAKARIA: Thank you both, fascinating conversation.
Next, we'll visit a country where there was an extremely contentious debate on guns. But eventually, liberals and conservatives have reached an agreement to keep their citizens safe. Could that be a model for America?
[22:25:16] (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ZAKARIA (voice-over): John Fidler, his wife, Gaye and Walter Mikac can relate to the horrors of gun violence in America all too well.
JOHN FIDLER, PORT ARTHUR MASSACRE SURVIVOR: He just walked up and stood in front of people and just shot them. He shot them in the heads.
WALTER MIKAC, PORT ARTHUR MASSACRE SURVIVOR: I know what it is like waking up the next day, it is your birthday. You wake up alone. There is a card in the bedside table that's not been written in. And there is no noise in the house and it is not going to change for quite a long time.
ZAKARIA: The Fidlers and Mikac were forever changed by the worst mass shooting in Australia's history.
On April 28th, 1996, over 30 people were shot dead at a crowded tourist destination, a historic prison in Port Arthur, Tasmania. 28- year-old Martin Bryant arrived at the site, ate lunch, then walked into a cafe and pulled a semi-automatic rifle out of his bag. His first shots killed three of the Fiedler's best friends, Wally Bennett, Kevin Sharp and Kevin's brother, Ray Sharp who were gunned down right in front of them.
JOHN FIDLER: At first, I could not move. I didn't know what to do. I thought this is the end.
GAYE FIDLER, PORT ARTHUR MASSACRE SURVIVOR: I said to John, I've been hit. And with that he turned around and pushed me under the table and the man behind me hasn't gone to hid. And the others under the table told me to be quiet and John told me to - and then we pretended to be dead.
ZAKARIA: Miraculously, the gunman moved on and Fidlers escaped with their lives. Outside the cafe, Walter Mikac's ex-wife Nanette and their daughters, Alannah and Madeline had been having a picnic. Nanette flagged down a car so they could escape but in that car was the gunman himself. Nanette pleaded for her family but the killer shot her and the 3-year-old Madeline. Then chased down 6-year-old Alannah and shot her near a tree where she was trying to hide.
MIKAC: The doctor said, look, Nanette and the children -- the girls they're all dead. I just remember this scream. I really wanted to be with them. At that point in time - I would have been much happier to be dead than alive.
ZAKARIA: In all, 35 people were killed before Bryant was captured by the police.
JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: The overwhelming feeling was this was terrible. We had to do something about it.
ZAKARIA: Prime Minister John Howard had been elected just weeks before the massacre. Other mass shootings in Australia had provoked outraged but with so many victims from different parts of the country, the Port Arthur shooting shocked the small nation of 18 million to its core.
HOWARD: In politics, you are to use political capital for a good cause or you watch waste away. And I felt that I had to use the authority of my office to change things.
A dramatic reduction in the number of automatic and semi-automatic weapons in the --
ZAKARIA: Howard proposed the toughest gun laws in Australia's history, a ban on semi-automatic rifles and shotguns and pump action shot guns, mandatory gun registration, requiring a reason for buying a gun and new rules for storing guns. If they passed, they would represent one of the most dramatic changes to a country's gun laws the world have ever seen. It was not going to be easy. Howard was a conservative and many of his supporters were rural gun owners who were dead set against tighter laws. As you travel the country to sell the plan, Howard met plenty of resistance. HOWARD: Those decisions are not going to be changed.
ZAKARIA: Wearing a bullet proof vest at one rally.
TIM FISCHER, HOWARD'S DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: It was not all that popular. There were a lot of critical efforts in the media. But was it the right course for Australia? Yes, it was.
ZAKARIA: Tim Fischer was Howard's deputy prime minister and a somewhat unlikely ally, a proud gun owner and a veteran of the Vietnam War. But he supported Howard's efforts wholeheartedly.
FISCHER: I am totally opposed to automatics and semi-automatics being in the suburbs of Australia or anywhere.
[22:30:00] ZAKARIA: Thanks to Howard's broad coalition, all of Australia's states and territories enacted the reforms within about two years of the Port Arthur shooting.
To get rid of all the newly banned guns, the government sponsored a gun buyback program, paying everyone to turn in their illegal guns so they could be destroyed.
Over 600,000 guns were eliminated, an estimated of one-fifth of Australia's civilian firearms.
After the new measures were passed, some of Prime Minister Howard's right wing allies were voted out of office. But overall, the reforms were popular.
HOWARD: In a short period of time, the rising out of a terrible tragedy, we did bring about of a change which over the years demonstrated to save lives.
ZAKARIA: According to one study, gun suicides fell 65 percent in the decade that followed. And while the sample size for gun homicides were small. They still fell 59 percent.
What's more since Port Arthur, there has been only one public mass shooting in all of Australia. An accounting by "The Washington Post" helps put this into perspective. By its count of the same period in the U.S., there had been more than 100 such deliberate killings of four or more victims in a public space, unrelated to other crimes. That list of course has stopped by the Vegas shooting where 58 died.
Still, for the victims of Port Arthur, painful memories will never be too far away.
GAYE FIDLER: One of the things that affect me the most is wake up to the radio in the morning and there have been shootings overseas, particularly America and that really does make us take a step back.
MIKAC: It's almost like what happens is not that far from this normal life. It is the cancer that's eating away the United States of America. It is possible to change the way things are.
ZAKARIA: Up next, after many shootings in America, fingers are pointed into the influence of violent video games. We will visit a country where people are equally obsessed with such games if not more. Is gun violence a big problem there? Well, you will find out when we come back.
[22:36:14] (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ZAKARIA (voice-over): You've heard it before after countless mass shootings, in a decade's long hunt for answers for motives, one culprit keeps coming up haunting the popular imagination for years -- video games.
JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), FORMER SENATOR OF THE UNITED STATES: These games teach a child enjoy inflicting torture.
ZAKARIA: You heard it after Columbine.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: There is just too much evidence that children are desensitized. You win based on how many people you kill.
ZAKARIA: And you've now heard it from the president after Parkland.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people's thoughts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: And again, after a weekend of two tragic massacres.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We must stop the glorifications of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now common place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: But America is hardly the only country obsessed with video games. So, I now searched for global lessons on guns. We wanted to find a country that could teach us about gaming and gun violence. We decided to visit Japan because few nations on earth have more avid gamers than the land of the rising sun.
Japanese play many of the same violent video games that we do. In 2019, gaming revenue in Japan was nearly $19 billion behind only China and the United States.
But there is another factor to consider here when it comes to gun violence, Japan has some of the strictest gun laws in the world. The basic premise of those laws -
If you want to own a gun, good luck.
Japan's firearm and swords control laws states no person shall possess a firearm before listing a few narrow exceptions for hunters and other categories. For the brave few still willing to apply for one, they face an intricately designed bureaucratic obstacle course. Just ask Rick Sacca, a former U.S. Marine who was living on Mount Fuji when we met him in 2013. He told us he was one of only a handful of foreigners in Japan to legally own a gun. Back at his house, he showed us the binders full of paper work he's had to deal with over the years. They were a bit overwhelming even to explain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What all do you have to do?
RICK SACCA, CAMP FUJI'S U.S. MARINE: It is such a - initially - do you want to help me?
ZAKARIA: Sacca took over 20 hours of lectures of written tests, a shooting range class, and he passed a criminal background check. A doctor gave him a full physical and psychological exam. He also visited the police station more than five times where he was interviewed in an interrogation room.
SACCA: Do you have any problems with alcohol? Do you have any problems with drugs? Do you have any problems with relationships, family, work, money?
ZAKARIA: The police also questioned Sacca's family, his co-workers, even his neighbors and top it off, he had to give them a detailed map of his home.
SACCA: To produce a floor map of where your firearm will be stored in your home is kind of unusual and photos that actually detail all of the locks that we have to have in there and show that it is done properly.
ZAKARIA: It took Sacca over a year to get approved.
SACCA: That's our actual firearms license.
ZAKARIA: And he must renew his various licenses regularly.
[22:40:01] SACCA: The intrusion that occurs with the process regularly would never ever be tolerated in the U.S.
ZAKARIA: It is a process meant to discourage people from even trying to get a gun. And it works. Japan has fewer guns per person than almost any other country, less than one firearm per 100 people according to one estimate.
And the country's gun murder rate is astonishingly low. In 2017, this nation of 127 million people counted only nine gun murders. That's right, nine. The U.S. per capita gun homicide rate that year was more than 600 times than of Japan. JAKE ADELSTEIN, REPORTER, JAPAN'S "YOMIURI SHINBUN": Japan has so little gun violence that every time a shot is fired in Japan is national news. One of the guys pulled out the sword and slashed --
Jake Adelstein was a reporter for Japan's largest daily newspaper, the "Yomiuri Shinbun" for 12 years.
ADELSTEIN: This is the area where they start made to get out and this is where they made the arrest.
ZAKARIA: He authored a memoir of his reporting days called "Tokyo Vice."
He says there is a dark side to the rising sun but it's seldom leads to shots fired.
ADELSTEIN: I have not met a cop who gets fired his gun in the course of duty. And I mean I know a lot of cops - I mean since 1993. I have been working as a reporter in Japan mostly on the "Police Beat."
ZAKARIA: In fact, guns are so rare and tightly regulated here that even mobsters avoid using guns. Known as the Yakuza and often recognized for their full body tattoos. Japanese organized crime doesn't like for muscle, they have reportedly had enormous region of business and politics. Once described as the largest private equity group in Japan by Morgan Stanley. But many don't like conducting business with a gun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Guns are like nuclear weapons. Weapons that the Yakuza has but won't use.
ZAKARIA: A former Yakuza boss sat down with us to give us his take on the mob's at attitude. He insisted on wearing a mask but showed us his tattoos and his partially missing finger, another Yakuza trademark to prove his identity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Guns are kept and controlled by strict regulations within the Yakuza organization. So, it is prohibited for members to take the gun out and use it.
ZAKARIA: That's because punishments for gun infractions are very high in Japan, he says. Simply firing a gun can get you life in prison.
And if a foot soldier in the mob gets caught with a gun, his boss can also be held responsible.
So, these days, the Yakuza conduct business using less efficient methods.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There are not specific orders on what weapons we should use but obviously there are only knives or Japanese swords instead of guns to kill.
ZAKARIA: Jake Adelstein says, Japan's lesson for the U.S. is a simple one. ADELSTEIN: If you make strict gun control laws and you assign cops to enforce those laws and you actually enforce them, the rate of gun deaths in the United States would plummet but you have to do it.
ZAKARIA: Next, we'll visit a country with a lot of guns, just like the U.S. but a fraction of America's gun violence. Find out that country's secrets when we come back.
[22:45:00] (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ZAKARIA (voice-over): If there's one country with the love for guns that rivals America's, it's the nation best known for its Alps. Switzerland.
Welcome to the Schutzenfest (ph), Switzerland's annual field shooting festival that's said to be the largest shooting competition in the world. Towns and villages across the country staged test of marksmanship. Families bring the kids. And after the competition, there is a gigantic party.
One festival in the town of Salvenach was especially boisterous.
The winners of each event would cheer wildly. And the champion of the prestigious 300-meter competition, known to all as the shooting king, is yield up triumphantly to the tune of cow bells.
Switzerland is by many measures a gun lovers' paradise. According to one estimate, the Swiss ranked in the top 20 in the world with 28 guns for 100 people.
Why is Switzerland armed to the teeth? Well, thanks to a tradition that dates back to the dawn of the nation. It's citizen militia that formed its army. All able-bodied men from farmers to financiers, served at least 245 days in the militia. They're all trained to shoot and most of them keep their guns at home. Militiamen can hone their skills at their local shooting clubs, gun appreciation societies that boast more than 100,000 members and offered classes, competitions and comradery.
URSULA LUTZ, SWISS GUN USER: We do competitions together. And we are young people and we are older people.
ZAKARIA: Pistol-packing Ursula Lutz has been shooting for most of her life.
[22:50:01] On this day at her club, she hits the bull's-eye 18 out of 20 times, not bad for someone in her 70s.
LUTZ: I was very surprised, yes. I never did it.
ZAKARIA: Even the youngsters here are expert marksmen.
Dave Herbert (ph) was all of 10 years old when we met him in 2013, and he started training two years before. His advice for the inexperienced?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
ZAKARIA: Don't fidget while shooting.
Despite the Swiss people's enthusiasm for guns, gun homicide rates are much lower than in the United States. 21 times lower in 2017 according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Supporters of gun rights in America have claimed that the Swiss proved one of their main points. Lots of guns does not necessarily mean lots of gun violence. But that is not the whole story here in Switzerland.
MARTIN KILLIAS, PROFESSOR OF CRIMINOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF ST. GALLEN: Their interest definitely is not that any crazy man with a criminal history should go out and be able to buy a gun at any spot.
ZAKARIA: Dr. Martin Killias is a professor of criminology at the University of St. Gallen. He points out that many Swiss gun laws are much stricter than those in America.
KILLIAS: There are nowadays far more controls than there used to be in the past.
ZAKARIA: Everyone who buys a gun must pass a background check. Automatic weapons are banned. Gun purchases must be registered with the government. Over time, Swiss voters have even tightened these controls to comply with EU standards. The NRA, Killias says, would not be very happy.
KILLIAS: Oh, they would say it's a Communist country, definitely.
ZAKARIA: In the militia, soldiers can take home their weapons, but not their ammunition. After a soldier has completed his service, he must now re-apply for the right to keep his gun.
The truth is many gun owners' attitudes in Switzerland are very different from the NRA. Ursula Lutz, the pistol-packing septuagenarian, loves to shoot, but she's not interested in loser gun laws like in America.
LUTZ: I don't want that people walk in the streets with the guns.
ZAKARIA: Up next, what to make of all these lessons from all over the world? My own thoughts, coming up.
[22:56:55] ZAKARIA: We in America have been remarkably passive with regards to gun violence. In the midst of an epidemic that kills more people each year than over a decade in most advanced countries, we have done virtually nothing.
We hear a flurry of reasons why, some contradicting the others. What they have in common is a remarkable lack of evidence or fact. So we've tried in this program to bring facts to bear on a debate that is usually high on emotion and conviction but low on evidence.
We hear that regulations would never work. So we went all over the world and found many interesting regulations and ideas that do work.
People say, well, America is different because it already has many guns. True, but so do Switzerland and Australia. The latter has a gun culture very similar to America's. And yet, as we saw in the aftermath of its own Newtown-like massacre, Australia changed its gun laws. The result? Homicides and suicides plummeted in the decade that followed.
Of course, like all real-world problems, the link between guns and violence is a complicated issue, but one rarely sees so much evidence pointing in the same direction. What we did not find was a large- scale nationwide example where an expanded attention to mental health issues could be tied to a reduction in homicides or suicides using guns.
And yet every time there is a serious gun massacre in the U.S., and alas, these are fairly common, the media focuses on the twisted psychology of the shooter and asks why we don't pay more attention to detecting and treating mental illness. The question we should really be focused on is not the specific cause of a single shooting, but why there are so many of them in America.
There are other reasons often given for gun violence, popular culture and violent video games. Japan, with its particular fascination with violent video games, actually has a stunningly low rate of gun deaths.
That leaves the issue of the American Constitution, the argument that the Second Amendment makes any kind of serious gun control impossible. Now, I'm not a legal historian, but you heard from two serious scholars who noted that the Second Amendment was not invoked for much of American history, often applied only to well-regulated state militias, and for many decades, did not stand in the way of sensible gun regulation, and that the Supreme Court upheld such regulations.
But let's put aside the legal debate. Here's how I think about this, basically. One of the most important tasks for a government is to keep its citizens, especially its children, safe on the streets and in their schools. Every other developed country in the world is able to fulfill this basic mandate. America is not. And the greatest tragedy is we know how to do it.
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