The United States is troubled by one gun attack after another. Schools, hospitals, churches, shopping malls, Muslim communities and black people are not spared from gun attacks. In July last year, 21 children lost their lives in a school attack in Texas. The gunman’s name is Salvador Ramos, only 18 years old. In two months of 2023, many people were killed in several acts of violence.
Laws have been passed to hand over guns to school teachers and staff for safety. This step was taken for the safety of the teachers and students of the state of Ohio in North America. Another incident occurred in June. Ten people were killed in a shooting at a supermarket in New York state. In March 2022, multiple shootings occurred at the funeral of a man at Graceland Cemetery in the US state of Wisconsin. Five people were injured. The attacker was also shot dead by the police.
The United States allows its citizens to legally own 390 million guns. And that is why all such incidents are happening, according to a news analysis of AFP. Traffic accidents have been the leading cause of death for young Americans in recent years, according to research. After that there is death by gun attack. Although the death in road accidents has decreased, the use of guns continues to increase due to the lack of control over firearms. Yet neither Republican nor Democrat administrations have made major changes to gun laws.
According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 4,300 children lost their lives to gunshots in 2020. Their ages range from one to 19 years. Which is 33.4 percent more than 2019. The CDC says 29.5 percent of children and adolescents in the country use firearms. Shooting deaths include murder, suicide, involuntary manslaughter. During this time, the suicide rate in the United States increased by 1.1 percent. Access to legally possessing firearms is almost unlimited. Many analysts think that these events have happened because of that. They said that the main reason for these incidents is the facility of getting free firearms. The demand for gun control in the United States has been raised at various times, but it has not seen the light of day because of the gun manufacturers.
“Enough is enough,” the media and protesters said. President Joe Biden has called on Congress to take action to curb gun violence. He wants to ban assault weapons, require background checks on gun applicants and take other measures to control firearms. Biden said, ‘A country paralyzed by gun violence’. He raised the question, ‘How many lives will be changed in the United States in exchange for firearms laws?’
Gun violence is a daily tragedy affecting people’s lives around the world. More than 500 people die every day from gun violence. Amnesty International views gun violence as a global human rights issue. While social scientists consider this problem to be a decline in social values, religious scholars describe it as a result of people moving away from religious beliefs and practices. The presence of firearms often makes people fearful. Weapons can have serious and long-term psychological effects on individuals and entire communities.
When people fear guns, it negatively affects people’s right to education or health care. They are afraid to go to school or health center. Analysts believe that access to firearms, whether legal or illegal, is one of the main drivers of gun violence.
States have an obligation to ensure maximum protection of human rights. It is the responsibility of the state to create the safest possible environment for the majority of people, especially those considered to be at greatest risk. If a state does not implement adequate controls on the possession and use of firearms in the face of persistent gun violence, it becomes liable for violating its obligations under international human rights law.
Gun violence accounts for 44 percent of all homicides worldwide. Between 2012 and 2016, there were 1.5 million firearm-related deaths worldwide. The majority of victims and perpetrators are young men, but women are especially vulnerable to gun violence at the hands of intimate partners. Statistics also show that approximately 2,000 people are shot and injured every day and at least 2 million people are living with gunshot wounds worldwide. About 134,000 people were shot and injured by firearms in the United States in 2017.
Gun violence has turned into a human rights crisis in the US. More than 39,000 men, women and children are killed by guns in the United States each year as a result of easy and widespread access to firearms for individuals and families, and lax regulations, Amnesty International reports. On average, more than 360 people are shot and injured every day in the United States.
In 2017, approximately 39,773 people died from gunshot wounds. That is, an average of 109 people died every day. This figure is significantly higher than other industrialized countries.
Citizens can legally carry firearms openly or concealed in every state in the United States, and most states can legally carry firearms openly. However, laws governing the carrying of firearms in public are not uniform across the country, and some states have no laws at all. 12 states have the right to openly carry concealed weapons without a license or permit, 30 states have the right to openly carry handguns without a license or permit.
Currently, 45 states allow open carry of firearms. Only seven states require people to show a credible reason or need to carry a concealed firearm. All 50 states and Washington DC permit the concealed carry of firearms in public. Apparently, the US government has prioritized gun ownership over basic human rights. Despite the large number of guns in circulation and the number of people killed by guns increasing each year, there is a surprising lack of federal regulations that could save thousands of lives. Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International, presented this information in a statement.
In the United States, the African-American community, particularly young black men, has been more affected by gun violence. 14 thousand 542 people lost their lives in gun attacks in 2017. Despite African-Americans making up 13 percent of the U.S. population, 58.5 percent were killed nationwide. They are 10 times more likely to die of firearm homicide than white men and boys. Failure to address systemic discrimination, misuse of firearms, and failure to invest in gun violence prevention programs exacerbate this crisis.
Another statistic shows that between 2009 and 2016, there were 156 massacres in which a total of 848 people were killed and 339 injured. Here, shootings in which four or more people are killed are considered as genocide.
Gunshot injuries often change lifestyles and have long-term, serious effects on victims’ mental and physical health. Some of these require permanent, lifelong care, many lose their ability to work, especially in physically demanding jobs. Victim families are protesting the virtual non-existence of adequate long-term care, rehabilitation and job retraining programs in developed countries. The impact of gun violence on victims, family members, and medical care has resulted in a chronic public health crisis. Government support is significantly less.
Gun violence is particularly prevalent in America where there is easy access to firearms, weak regulation or weak enforcement of laws to address gun violence. Corruption, organized crime and an ineffective criminal justice system in Latin America and the Caribbean exacerbate this problem.
Globally, Brazil accounts for 72 percent of firearm homicides, El Salvador for 91.1 percent, and Honduras for 58.9 percent, which is alarming.
Eight million new small arms and 15 billion rounds of ammunition are produced each year. The small arms trade is worth an estimated $8.5 billion a year.
Gun violence has a strong socioeconomic dimension. It is usually concentrated in low-income urban neighborhoods with high levels of crime. These often include illegal drug trafficking, inadequate policing that does not meet international standards of human rights and law enforcement.
Stricter gun control and violence prevention programs can stop the carnage. The carrying of firearms and ammunition by private persons should be easily controlled. Individual liberties and human rights issues need to be analyzed in light of gun violence. Now there are voices in the United States that the possession of firearms without a license should be banned. States must register all firearms and make unlicensed possession a criminal offence.
A firearms license should be subject to certain criteria. Gun licenses should be time-limited and training on rules of use should be mandatory. The number and types of weapons a person can possess should be strictly limited based on necessity and credible justification.
President Joe Biden has blamed gun manufacturers and their supporters for blocking passage of the law for years of failure to end the violence. Recently, he has also expressed solidarity with the protestors against stricter law enforcement.
[Photo by WorldSpectrum / Pixabay]
*Harunur Rasid is a London-based Bangladeshi expatriate who is a Bangladesh and Myanmar affairs observer, analyst, and researcher. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.