Why Is There So Much Gun Violence in the US?

Despicable incidents like ‘mass shooting’ are increasing in the US at an unstoppable speed. Analysts are worried about the consequences of this if the whim of unwanted gun use continues in the future. The indirect impression of this misfortune of the US is being felt worldwide. In fact, prior to the American Revolution, the American government did not have the budget, manpower, or will to maintain a full-time army. So, Americans became dependent on weapons to protect themselves from foreign armies and Native Americans. Residents of the border areas used weapons for self-defense. That’s why, according to a study by the Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey (SAS), the United States is the only country in the world with a higher number of weapons per population. An average of 100 people carry around 121 weapons and the number is rising.

Many Americans consider their right to bear arms sacrosanct. According to SAS data, Americans own about 393 million of the world’s 857 million weapons; Which is about 46 percent of the total weapons. Apart from that, a study has found that the number of new buyers is high and crimes are being committed by people under the age of 21. So, laws have been enacted to vet sales of firearms to 18–20-year-old Americans. While every state followed the law, California overturned it through the courts. As a result, the law is under threat in other states as well.

In the US, schools, parks, streets, restaurants, places of worship, and even homes – the fear of insecurity is everywhere. Because, regardless of place and time, people are always getting injured or killed by firearm attacks. Even the Gun Violence Archive says that firearms are one of the leading causes of American child death. The evidence of this has been found in the recent incidents of gun violence in schools. Some steps have already been taken in schools to prevent it. For example, increased vigilance at school entrances, training of teachers in the use of firearms, strict monitoring by security personnel, etc. But worryingly, most of the teachers are not interested in taking training in handling weapons. Conservative gun owners, on the other hand, say that increased security in schools, like government offices, could reduce child deaths. However, it is considered difficult to provide similar security in the vast majority of educational institutions as compared to government offices. Apart from that, many say that the use of guns should be banned in schools, government offices, hospitals and transport. But studies show that places with less gun use have higher rates of violence. As a result, conservative gun users are advocating for looser gun laws.

If a person uses a firearm to injure or kill four or more people at the same time, it is considered a mass shooting. In 2014, the number of such incidents was 273; 336 in 2015; 383 in 2016; 348 in 2017; 336 in 2018; 417 in 2019; 610 in 2020; 690 in 2021 and 647 in 2022. Apart from that, the number has already crossed 80 this year. But it is difficult to predict where the number will end up! Gun-violence deaths totaled 48,830 in 2021, about 8 percent more than 45,222 in 2020 and about 45 percent more than 2012. 

Many say that mentally disturbed people are more involved in shootings. Statistics say otherwise. Only 4 percent of those involved in mass shootings have a mental disorder. Others say gun violence increases when temperatures are high. When the temperature is high, the crowd outside increases and the attacker has a hot head. Many say that some of the attackers are acting out of desperation. Apart from this, several studies have also revealed that many people are attacking just to come to the center of discussion. 

An October 2022 Gallup poll found that 57 percent of Americans think of stricter gun control laws. However, 32 percent of Americans expressed an opinion in favor of maintaining the current laws. Ten percent of Americans say gun laws should be loosened.  

Another Gallup poll found that while 91 percent of Democrats favor stricter gun laws, only 24 percent of Republicans agree. In addition, there is mixed public reaction to the introduction of the ‘Red Flag Law’ (the police can temporarily confiscate guns from people suspected of harming others) in the United States.

The initiative of the government to announce rewards in exchange for unnecessary weapons has not been very effective. In addition, tougher gun laws have been passed in phases, but have stalled in the Senate due to lack of sufficient support. But if the US cannot introduce tougher laws or a firm resolution on gun-violence, it could become a major obstacle to its society and prosperity in the future.

[Photo by Augustas Didžgalvis, via Wikimedia Commons]

*Taslima Hyat is a freelance journalist and researcher. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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