PIIE Blog | North Korea: Witness to Transformation
The Peterson Institute for International Economics is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan
research institution devoted to the study of international economic policy. More › ›
Subscribe to North Korea: Witness to Transformation Search
North Korea: Witness to Transformation

Gun Control in North Korea (and in the United States)

by | August 26th, 2012 | 05:47 am
|

North Korea has a lot of guns and a lot of folks with military training who know how to use them.  Apart from stories of gun-toting robbers, smugglers, and soldiers misusing firearms to forcibly shake down farmers or others, there are occasional entertaining reports such as the one reported by GoodFriends a few years back of the fallout when one local official stole a pistol from a rival faction.

We now learn via Yonhap that in November 2009, following Kim Jong-il’s stroke, wary of unrest associated with succession the North Korean Supreme Peoples Assembly enacted a firearms control law.  The law, comprised of five chapters and 42 articles, “aims to contribute to the guarantee of social safety and the protection of the people’s lives and property by setting up the strict system” on registering, storing and using firearms, establishing rules on the supply, transport, storage and usage of guns and their instruction system.

According to Yonhap, “under the regulations, guns are allowed only for its “primary purposes” including executing official duties such as keeping guard and training.

Institutions, businesses, groups and the public are prohibited from possessing or transacting firearms according to the law, which also banned lending, smuggling, destroying and self-producing firearms.

Those who violate the rules, resulting in “stern consequences,” are subject to administrative and criminal liabilities.”

The response from my home state of Texas was swift and predictable, observing the “chilling similarities” between the North Korean population control rationale and American “gun-grabber reasoning.”

But as the ever-entertaining Adam Taylor at Business Insider reports, the North Koreans have their own take on American gun culture. According to KCNA, anyone can walk into a store and purchase a firearm and then start banging away at the slightest provocation. The result is mayhem that kills or injures hundreds of thousands each year. The US could enact stricter gun control laws, but political acquiescence and ersatz interpretations of constitutional rights instead perpetuate this “social ill.”  The piece then goes on to say that the prevalence of “gun crime” demonstrates just how “rotten” and “perishable” American society is.