No guns at home, so Japanese shoot 'em up in Guam
TAMUNING, Guam (AP) — Their well-equipped arsenals offer everything from tiny revolvers (for ladies) to Berettas, Glocks, semi-automatic pistols and M16 military assault rifles. If kids can see over the counter, they are welcome too.
Forget the white sandy beaches, coral reefs and laid-back island culture. For many tourists from Japan, the biggest thrill is the chance to shoot a gun at one of Guam's ubiquitous ranges, dozens of which are tucked between upscale shopping centers.
The U.S. territory of Guam — a tropical island often described as a cheaper version of Hawaii — has long been the perfect place to put guns in the hands of tourists, especially from Japan, where gun ownership is tightly restricted and handguns are banned.
Despite a shared sense of shock over the recent rampage by a gunman at America's Sandy Hook Elementary School, the gun tourism business here is as brisk as ever.
"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 the Western Frontier Village gun club, a cowboy-themed indoor shooting range and gift shop on Guam's main shopping street.
"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. Back home, the only people with handguns are in the military, the police or the mob.
Because guns are so hard to find, gun-related crime is extremely rare. They were used in only seven murders in Japan — a nation of about 130 million people — in 2011, the most recent year for official statistics. In the U.S., with 315 million people, there are more than 11,000 gun-related killings annually.
The Japanese are proud of their low crime rate and generally support tough gun-control policies.
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