This Valentine’s Day, it happened again: A shooter walked into an American school and opened fire. The shooting, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killed 17 people and critically injured 17 more…
This shooting gave rise to new calls for gun control laws. People of the US argued “This happens nowhere else, other than the United States of America. It only happens here not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction. We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else.”
Unlike any other developed country — let’s understand how role of guns play out in the American politics, culture and how laws continue to drive the routine gun violence that marks the American life!
America’s gun problem is completely unique
Maybe some bills get introduced. Critics respond with concerns that the government is trying to take away their guns. The debate stalls. But as has been true after past mass shootings, the chances of Congress taking any action on gun control laws is very low.
No other developed country in the world has anywhere near the same rate of gun violence as America. The US has nearly six times the gun homicide rate as Canada, and nearly 16 times as Germany, according to UN data compiled by the Guardian.
The US has by far the highest number of privately owned guns in the world. Estimated in 2007, the number of civilian-owned firearms in the US was 88.8 guns per 100 people, meaning there was almost one privately owned gun per American and more than one per American adult.
No matter how you look at the data, more guns mean more gun deaths. Period.
While a few people in some cases may use a gun to successfully defend themselves or others, the proliferation of guns appears to cause far more violence than it prevents. High gun ownership rates do not reduce gun deaths, but rather tend to coincide with increases in gun deaths.
Americans tend to support measures to restrict guns, but that doesn’t translate into laws
If you ask Americans how they feel about specific gun control measures, they will often say that they support them.
So why don’t these measures ever get turned into law? That’s because they run into another political issue: Americans, increasingly in recent years, tend to support the abstract idea of the right to own guns.
The opponents tend to be much more passionate about the issue than the supporters — and they’re backed by a very powerful political lobby.
Other developed countries have had huge successes with gun control
In 1996, a 28-year-old man walked into a cafe in Port Arthur, Australia, ate lunch, pulled a semiautomatic rifle out of his bag, and opened fire on the crowd, killing 35 people and wounding 23 more. It was solemnly one of the worst mass shooting in Australia’s history.
Australian lawmakers responded with legislation that banned certain types of firearms, rifles and shotguns. The Australian government confiscated 650,000 of these guns through a mandatory gun buyback program, in which it purchased the firearms from gun owners. It established a registry of all guns owned in the country and required a permit for all new firearm purchases.
The result: Australia’s firearm homicide rate dropped by about 42 percent in the seven years after the law passed, and its firearm suicide rate fell by 57 percent, according to one review by Harvard researchers.
Israeli officials, as part of their solution, decided to try forcing the soldiers to keep their guns at the base when they went home. It worked: A study from Israeli researchers found that suicides among Israeli soldiers dropped by 40 percent.
Although they get a lot of focus, mass shootings are a small portion of all gun violence
Less-covered kinds of gun violence kill far more Americans than even these mass shootings. Under the broadest definition of mass shooting, these incidents killed about 500 Americans in 2013. That represents just a fraction of total gun homicides: more than 11,200 that year. And firearm suicides killed even more: nearly 21,200 Americans.
Several days of fiery speeches by students who survived the shooting, including one by Emma Gonzalez at a gun control rally that went viral.
“Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have ever been done to prevent this, we call BS. They say that tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. They say that no laws could have been able to prevent the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS.”
So while politicians often lean on mass shootings to call for gun control, the problem goes far beyond those incidents. Though it’s hard to fault them for trying; mass shootings, after all, force Americans to confront the toll of their gun laws and gun culture.
Even the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut — in which a gunman killed 20 young children, six school personnel, and himself — catalyzed no significant change at the federal level and most states. Since then, there have been, by some estimates, more than 1600 mass shootings.
And there is every reason to believe there will be more in the years to come…
Feature image: getty images; Content reference: vox.com
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