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Why Taiwan is So Safe – A Glimpse at a World Without Guns

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There are some countries in the world that have guns and yet are ranked among the safest places in the world such as Iceland. Other countries including Japan have such restrictive gun laws that it is almost impossible for people to obtain them unless having gone through intense mental health check backgrounds. However, there are also countries such as Taiwan that do not allow guns at all and the results of this are worth noticing.

While living or visiting Taiwan, whether it is in Taipei or in the south at Kaohsiung, you may or may not notice several things. First, in every convenient store you go to there are none that have bulletproof glass. In fact, most 7/11 stores have female workers employed late into the night, running operations on their own without ever feeling threatened. The workers interact with customers well after midnight, stocking shelves on their own and do not hide behind bulletproof glass.

In Taiwan, single women walk around Taipei late at night without feeling threatened and people feel completely safe walking down dark and spooky alleys. There are no guns allowed in Taiwan and consequently the criminal acts that come with guns also do not exist. People who have lived in places such as Taipei for a while often joke at how ridiculously safe Taiwan is, and that they take it for granted that there are no neighborhoods they need to avoid not certain times of the night when they shouldn’t go out.

There are different social dynamics that contribute to this phenomenon. First off, the government simply doesn’t see the point in having guns in society, because well, they pose an unnecessary threat to the lives of locals. Taiwan has already proven to itself that it is safe without guns, so would allowing guns increase safety? A lesson in basic logic would say no, and there is no point for people to be armed to protect themselves from others who have guns because….no guns exist in the first place. How does this work?

Even if Taiwanese wanted guns for something like hunting, the sport is for the most part 100% illegal due to the nation’s crammed population and limited resources. There are some aboriginal communities that are given room to hunt but for limited things, and they do hunt for local deer and other animas illegally but with traps. Food is both grown and shipped domestically, and for the most part easily accessible for transport across the whole nation unlike other countries such as the US that has different food resources spread out too far, making it more plausible for people to find solutions locally through hunting or farming on their own. Hunting in Taiwan, however, is not a necessity and therefore the need to hunt animals by using guns is not needed.

While some Taiwanese are fascinated with target practice shooting with BB guns and often fire different types of guns at shooting ranges while on vacation in places such as the Philippines and Cambodia, they do not see the necessity to have them in society. In places such as the US people have time to hunt for sport and go to the range for leisure activities, and while some Taiwanese would no doubt enjoy this they do not view a lack of guns as infringing on their freedoms. Perhaps it is because they have a social construct set up including the intelligent management of resources to the point where no one sees the point of guns, or perhaps its because guns have never been allowed and therefore citizens do not recognize the value of having or not having guns. This is a major difference in Taiwan.

Taiwan is not free from violence and there will always be some sort of social imbalance and struggle that takes place. Every once in a while Taiwan’s media gets hold of some local robbing a 7/11 with a knife in his hand, and there are also multiple killings through stabbings each year that occur. However, when a society is limited to the means in which it can react to aggression or out of some feeling of pain/hate, the ramifications of those actions produced are also limited. The stabbing of multiple victims by a man on the Taipei MRT back in 2014 could have been even worse if he had access to a gun, and while he would have been responsible as opposed to the gun, the fact that he had access to a gun in the first place is a social construct that is very risky in that it allows for the perpetrator to choose a more extreme weapon to carry out his or her actions. Taiwan realizes this and chooses not to allow guns in its society.

If you are a traveler in Taipei or elsewhere in Taiwan, rest assured you do not have to worry about getting capped while walking down an alley and that your stay will definitely be a safe one.

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