News / Asia

China, US School Attacks Highlight Difference in Gun Control

  • Stuffed animals and a sign calling for prayer rest at the base of a tree near the Newtown Village Cemetery in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 17, 2012.
  • A student looks for a place to leave flowers at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting at the entrance of Newtown High School December 18, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut.
  • Barbara Wells of Shelton, Conn., holds her daughter Olivia, 3, as she pays her respects Dec. 17, 2012 at one of the makeshift memorials for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.
  • First Burials for Newtown Victims Amid Profound Sadness
  • Frank Kulick, adjusts a display of wooden crosses, and a Jewish Star of David, representing the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, on his front lawn in Newtown, Conn., December 17, 2012.
  • Mourners grieve at one of the makeshift memorials for victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, December 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn.
  • Names of victims are displayed on a flag in the business area in Newtown, Connecticut, December 16, 2012.
  • A child's message rests with a memorial for shooting victims, December 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn.
  • A memorial is seen along the road to Sandy Hook Elementary School a day after a mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, December 15, 2012.
  • A sign and a U.S. national flag are seen near Sandy Hook Elementary School in Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut, Dec. 15, 2012.
  • This photo posted to the Emilie Parker Fund Facebook page shows six-year-old Emilie Parker, who was gunned down in Friday's school shooting in Connecticut.
  • Robbie Parker, the father of six-year-old Emilie who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, speaks during a news conference on Dec. 15, 2012 in Newtown, Conn.
  • This undated photo shows Adam Lanza posing for a group photo of the technology club which appeared in the Newtown High School yearbook.
  • A man bows his head as he stands at a makeshift memorial, outside Saint Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church in Newtown, Connecticut, Dec. 15, 2012.
  • Elizabeth Bogdanoff, left, kisses her daughter Julia, 13, during a prayer service at St John's Episcopal Church on Dec. 15, 2012 in Newtown, Conn.
  • People grieve next to a makeshift memorial of flowers and balloons next to the Sandy Hook Elementary school sign in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, Dec. 15, 2012.
  • A woman covers her mouth as others look on stand near candles outside Saint Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church near Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012.
  • A young girl is given a blanket after being evacuated from Sandy Hook Elementary School following a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Dec.14, 2012.

Connecticut School Massacre

Near simultaneous attacks on elementary schools in both the United States and China have prompted many to examine the very different approach each nation takes on gun control laws.

Armed with a rifle and two handguns, 20-year-old Adam Lanza was able to carry out one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history on Friday, killing 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Henan attack

Just hours earlier, a disturbed 36-year-old Chinese man, armed with a kitchen knife, walked into an elementary school in central Henan province and allegedly began attacking students. Although police say he was able to injure 23 children and an elderly villager, none of the injuries were severe and he was subdued a short time later by police and teachers.

It was the latest in a series of violent attacks on students in China that has led to soul-searching and increased security outside educational institutions. But nearly all of the incidents involved less deadly weapons such as knives, meat cleavers, or hammers, and there has been nothing that approaches the scale of Friday's tragedy in the U.S.

Joseph Cheng, a professor at City University in Hong Kong, says that he attributes this to China's tough gun laws, which make it nearly impossible for regular citizens to obtain firearms.

"Basically, unless you are a well-organized criminal gang, you normally do not have access to guns and modern weapons," says Cheng. "And ,since these cases are related to mentally disturbed people, they normally grab choppers and hammers from the kitchen in their homes and use these as weapons."

A mother explains how her son (L) got hurt during a knife attack that took place on December 14, 2012 at a primary school in Guangshan county, central China's Henan province.
A mother explains how her son (L) got hurt during a knife attack that took place on December 14, 2012 at a primary school in Guangshan county, central China's Henan province.



Homicide rate comparison

A look at how the U.S. ranks in comparison to the rest of world when it comes guns and gun violence.
 
The U.S. has the highest gun ownership rate in the world. 
 
GUN OWNERSHIP PER 100 PEOPLE
 
1. United States  -  89
2. Yemen            -  55
3. Switzerland     -  46
4. Finland            - 45
5. Serbia             - 38
 
--------------------------------------------
 
Despite the high number of guns, because of its large population, the U.S. does not have the worst firearms murder rate.
 
GUN MURDERS PER 100,000 PEOPLE
 
1.  Honduras     -  69
2.  El Salvador  -  40
3.  Jamaica      -   39
4   Venezuela   -  39
5.  Guatemala  -  35
 
The United States ranks 28th, with a rate of 3 per 100,000 people
 
-----------------------------------------
 
*The U.S. is one of the leading countries in the number of deaths attributed to guns.
 
NUMBER OF PEOPLE KILLED BY FIREARMS IN 2010
 
1.  Brazil              -  34,678
2.  Colombia         -  12,539
3.  Mexico            -  11,309
4.  Venezuela       -  11,115
5.  United States   -  9,146
 
Source: UNODC & Small arms survey of 2010 
The United Nations estimates that China's overall homicide rate is less than a quarter of that of the United States. Gun control advocates argue this is because China, which has over a billion more people than the U.S., has only a fraction of the number of the U.S.' guns.

"Certainly China has a much better control of weapons in comparison with the United States," said Cheng, who admits that guns are available for those who want them. "Because of the corruption of the military, there is apparently a pretty large circulation of small weapons in the black market."

But, Cheng says even if you are able to pay what it takes to illegally obtain guns, many are deterred from doing so because of the heavy penalties associated with illegal gun ownership.

Those found in possession of a single gun can get a prison sentence for as long as three years and many receive the death penalty for committing gun crimes in China, which regularly leads the world in annual executions.

Gun laws

Michael DeGolyer, who teaches government and international studies at the Hong Kong Baptist University, acknowledges that China's restrictive gun laws "possibly" play a part in reducing violence.

But he says he is concerned that, school children in countries around the world seem to be increasingly the target of violent attacks, no matter what type of weapon being used.

"The use of guns is higher in the United States in these kinds of attacks. But I think the fact that we have had attacks on schools, on children, not just in the United States, but in China and in other places - Norway, Pakistan - may indicate that we are getting a more widespread kind of stressor," he says.

Mental illness factor

In China, many have blamed the attacks on weaknesses in the Chinese medical system's ability to diagnose and treat psychiatric illnesses, which have been on the rise as many are unable to cope with the rapid pace of social change.

But DeGolyer is reluctant to blame just one factor.

"I think this is an area that definitely calls for research instead of pointing fingers or trying to argue that this is one particular cause or another," says DeGolyer. "Of course, the control of weaponry is one of the actions you can take to try to address the extent of the violence, but why are we seeing rising attacks on children globally? What is behind that?"

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by: Dave from: Chicago
December 26, 2012 3:50 PM
I'm sure the Chinese gun laws let their Communists dictators sleep soundly.


by: Ray N. from: California
December 26, 2012 3:47 AM
To OldWhiteMan From Dallas:
Your attempt at inperpreting the 2nd Amendment is inconsistent with the latest ruling by the Supreme Court which stated in District of Columbia v. Heller that:

"The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home."

I do not have a problem with a limit to 10 round magazines or disallowing assault rifles completely. It's best to not put words into other people's mouths. (Unlike you, I have never wanted to buy an assault rifle. I compete in bolt action rifle target shooting.)

Yes, I'm concerned with a possible slippery slope of laws that may affect me. But when you look at the incidents like Seung-Hui Cho (the teachers in this case knew something was wrong but could do nothing), Harris and Klebold, James Holmes, and this incident all of these perpetrators had serious issues going on in their heads.

Blaming the gun and the NRA is the easy scapegoat and not addressing the actual core issue: mental health services that help people cope with life as well as allow legal tools for family and schools to act upon people with signs of violent tendencies. This is hard to do and is expensive. It's much easier to just blame the NRA!! In fact, I think there should be a combination of laws that include everything I mention above (and more) to actually make a difference in protecting our families.


by: Ray N. from: California
December 21, 2012 1:30 AM
I am a responsible member of the NRA and cringe when these things happen. These incidents just make the MILLIONS of us responsible owners tagets though we have done nothing wrong! It's not fair that we lose right due to crazy lunatics. From my standpoint, the issue is lack of mental health support and treatment. Crazy adults cannot be committed to an asylum unless they do something wrong or unless the person allows it to happen. It is very difficult to actually have someone deemed 'unsafe to themselve or others' and forceably committed by a court. See, the state would take away THEIR RIGHTS if it were easier to have a family commit a dangerous family member to an asylum. So instead, these guys who are ticking time bombs are allowed to run free and kill and I have to pay the price. It's not fair and it doesnt address the root of the problem.

In Response

by: OldWhiteMan from: Dallas
December 25, 2012 8:52 PM
You don't want the Feds to limit sales of assault rifles with 30round magazines to anyone, but you want to give them or others the authority to put people in a mental institution. The guns were obtained legally which killed those 20 kids. The mom who bought them trained her son to use them and use them he did.

The constitution doesn't guarantee your right to own whatever firearm you wish. The forefathers weren't talking about our current weapons when they wrote it. Where do you stop...a grenade launcher? A bazooka? A nuclear weapon? The 2nd amendment is for the establishment of a "Well regulated militia" which they deemed vital to state security in their day.

I was about to buy an assault rifle myself - I am not now by choice...plus they have been sold out at virtually every store in Texas by the real mentally challenged who value the ability to kill people in droves and sign petitions to secede from the union above the lives of innocents.


by: Bill from: usa
December 21, 2012 1:09 AM
Comparing China and the US in this way is totally out of context. China is a communist country! We are a democracy. They dont have the right to even vote for their country's leadership! They are a totally different culture. It's just not a fair comparison based on one single aspect.

In Response

by: jeff from: Wa
January 15, 2013 9:09 PM
the common denominator is what used on the two incidents. One was knife and the other was armed with two high powered fire arms that reeled off 100s of rounds in a short time. Thats enough of a difference to compare apples to oranges, if disarming everyone in order to to save children.


by: DAVCLYMAR from: USA
December 20, 2012 9:52 PM
Perhaps the answer to the question "why the attacks on elementary age children?" might have something to do with societies' willingness to accept the violence and killing of younger children with impunity --young children still in the womb killed by the millions all legal -both in China and the U.S.

In Response

by: OldWhiteMan from: Dallas
December 25, 2012 8:41 PM
This makes no sense. Which of the American mass murders or attacks were adults attacking kids in schools. Connecticut was a mentally unstable young man whose mom had to home school him because he was messed up, Columbine were kids killing kids, the Colorado theater was random. What are you talking about?


by: Troy from: Arkansas
December 20, 2012 2:53 AM
But not a lot of detail as to why. In China arson, bribery, drug dealing, embezzlement, rape, murder, speaking out or publishing anti-government propaganda, and just illegally possessing a gun are all punished by execution. There are no years of taxpayer funded comfy prison with cable TV and rec rooms. There is little or no chance of appeal. You go to trial, you are found guilty, and they kill you. So maybe we should try this if we are to compare their crime rates to ours! Now do a little more research and you will find that China supplies most of the precursor chemicals used by the drug cartel in Central America and Mexico. To keep the drug trade going they also supply GUNS to the cartel. The more they disarm the US the more profitable their drug trade. So let them make a statement like some little innocent little republic. Do the research and then think about this. This is China pushing this agenda for their profit!

In Response

by: Anonymous
December 21, 2012 3:20 AM
I am sorry to say that you dont know China well. Countries always have two faces just like everybody. usa has many things to be studied for china, meanwhile, China has some things to spread to the world, in my opinion, the restriction for guns is a attitude of responsibility to other people and society.

In Response

by: Not an American from: Canada
December 20, 2012 3:13 PM
look troy, America is root of all evil right now. You think China is harsh?

Look at your country and government? Espionage in every country, starting wars in Middle East. Iraq War = $$ to US Government.

Don't look at China this way. Yes their government has a lot of strict laws, but with the mass amount of population, it must be controlled.

Now look at yours, with your freedom, you can say what ever?? think again! FCC will just shut your speech when they feel like it, Secret Service and FBI detain you anytime if they want and think you are a threat. EVERY GOVERNMENT is the SAME! But it would be nice to know that not every kid can get their hands on guns and shooting everyone they like would be nice!

So kudos to your intelligent remark to the Chinese Government when you don't even know your country SAYS ONE THING and DOES ANOTHER behind the BACK.

In Response

by: Anonymous
December 20, 2012 2:05 PM
I know you don't like Chinese government, but your words showed that you kept an eye on China. China is neither paradise to adventurers nor hell to normal people.
Come to find the truth about China, before you say so extreme words.


by: SDH from: Utah
December 20, 2012 2:21 AM
I just wanted to start by saying this has been a terrible tragedy and I wish all the families who have been effected by this my deepest sympathies.
I think it’s completely despicable to see liberals out and about trying to take away our right for self-defense all the while riding on the coat tail of these poor people that have to deal with this tragedy.
If you stop and think about what has happened instead of jumping immediately to gun control, by the way which will not happen. Because the second amendment says or states that our rights to keep and bear arms cannot be infringed. So basically what that means is any so called restrictions on personal arms is not legal irrespective as to who passes the law.
This fundamental issue means the best response is to look into the cause of the problem and not the instrument used to perpetrate said problem.
You want real lasting change let’s take a good hard look at dealing with School bullies and corporate aggressors, after all every one of these school shooting has been by some poor kid who was bullied and had been cast out of society’s so called popular kids.
There is the root of your problem there now go at it, but do not tread on my right to keep and bear arms…


by: OldNassau from: Florida, USA
December 19, 2012 8:42 PM
Well, duh, in a totalitarian society, the oligarchs never let the proletariat have weapons. Remember the Tienanmen Square photograph of the protestor standing in front of the tank: the only weapon he had was his body. Still, no other democracy's Sunday advertisements highlight assault rifles from a Gander Mountain or Dick's Sporting Goods.


by: john from: pennsylvania
December 19, 2012 5:49 PM
Lets all be pigs, and use a great tragedy to push our political agenda! train the teachers to protect our children we trust them with there safety already.

In Response

by: miller from: usa
December 20, 2012 2:06 PM
Your right I recently was in Bosnia and a widow told me that the army(serbs) came into their village of 1,000 and killed every male 15 to 70 years age. I saw first hand what happens when weapons are banned. A few weeks the people in Bosnia had guns and did the same thing to the Serbs.

A very uneasy peace exists there and everyone has a weapon in their closet, in the barn or under the bed and yes weapons are currently banned. The Serbs and Bosians both think twice before doing any agression as they might get thier asses blown off. A perfect example how armed people prevent crime from happening.

don't be fools Amereica once they start they will not be satisified until they have us donw to air rifles.


by: ron
December 19, 2012 5:40 PM
The answer to the Question is easy,children don't fight back.The monsters that do these crimes know what they are doing.How many do you see go in and try to shoot up a police station? It's all about the UNARMED AND UNPROTECTED.In a society as GODLESS as this one has become I'm amazed more hasn't happened.The morals in our great country at an all time low.The more God is removed from our daily lives the more misguided we become..............GOD save us all........from each other.

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