Other than the police and the military, no one in Japan may purchase a handgun or a rifle. Hunters and target shooters may possess shotguns and airguns under strictly circumscribed conditions. The police check gun licensees' ammunition inventory to make sure there are no shells or pellets unaccounted for. A prospective gun owner must take an official safety course and then pass a test that covers maintenance and inspection of the gun, methods of loading and unloading, shooting from various positions, and target practice for stationary and moving objects. The license is valid for 3 years. When not in actual use, all guns must be in a locked space. So comprehensive are the gun laws that even possession of a starter's pistol is allowed only under carefully prescribed conditions. The Japanese crime rate is low. Handguns were used in 209 crimes in 1985. About two-thirds of all gun crimes are committed by organized crime groups. The citizens apparently voluntarily comply with the gun law; accordingly, there is no mandatory minimum penalty for unlicensed firearm possession. Pressure to conform and internalized willingness to do so are much stronger in Japan than in America. The spirit of conformity provides the best explanation for Japan's low crime rate. It also explains why the Japanese people accept strict gun control. A gun ban in America similar to that in Japan would be alien to our society, which for over 300 years has had the world's strongest gun culture. Japan's gun laws are part of an authoritarian philosophy of government that is fundamentally at odds with America's traditions of liberty.