Why are there so many mass shootings in the US?
Why are there so many mass shootings in the US?

In recent weeks, the United States has been shaken by tragic mass shootings. In the three recent mass shootings, a total of 35 people were killed, including 10 in the New York shooting, 19 children and two teachers in Texas, three medical staff and one patient in Oklahoma.

The reason for many shootings in the US

Mass shootings, where four or more people — not including the shooter — are injured or killed, have averaged more than one per day so far this year. Not a single week in 2022 has passed without at least three mass shootings.

Mass shootings have been on the rise in recent years. In 2021, almost 700 such incidents occurred, a jump from the 611 in 2020 and 417 in 2019. Before that, incidents had not topped 400 annually since the Gun Violence Archive started tracking in 2014.

Some people think that the mass shootings are due to the violence in American society, or the deep racism, or the mental health problems of the people are not taken care of. . However, a 2015 study by professor Adam Lankford of the University of Alabama found that this is a common problem in mass shootings in countries around the world. What makes America different is the huge number of guns its people own.

Professor Lankford, who has studied mass shootings around the world for many years, said the US has about 4.4% of the global population, but owns 42% of the world's guns. Between 1966 and 2012, about 31% of the world's shooters were Americans.

Among countries with more than 10 million people, only Yemen has a higher rate of mass shootings per population than the United States. Yemen is also the country with the second highest rate of gun ownership in the world, after the United States.

Lankford said that after looking at 40 years of data from 171 countries, he found a direct link between the number of guns in a country and shootings.

"The biggest factor in explaining this is that guns in the US are very easily accessible, even to those at high risk," Lankford said, adding that the likelihood of Americans being killed in a shooting in the country work or school is much higher than the risk of being hit by a bullet near military bases abroad.

According to Dr. Lankford's analysis, in more than half of all mass shootings in the US, suspects own more than one gun, and many of these people never had a gun before committing the crime.

"Guns are not a hobby or something cultural or educational for these people. It's true that when someone is interested in killing people, they just think they need a gun as a tool to help themselves. achieve the goal," Lankford said.

However, he also pointed out that shooters in the US also kill fewer victims on average than in other countries. He attributed this to the speed of law enforcement's response to mass shootings.

In response to the growing prevalence of gun violence, some states have enacted legislation that allows family members or law enforcement to take a firearm from a person believed to pose a danger to others or to the public. self. In Alabama, people convicted of domestic violence or violence cannot own a gun. However, many people believe that the law restricting gun ownership needs to be more drastic, applied to more cases.

"If someone shows an interest in shooting, that person can't buy a gun. I think people should support laws that deprive dangerous people of the opportunity to own a gun," Lankford said.

He said the US should do more to provide mental health services to the people.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) earlier this week released data showing that the country in 2021 recorded 61 mass shootings, the highest in more than 20 years, leaving 103 people dead and 140 injured.

After the shooting at Robb Elementary School, US President Joe Biden immediately gave a speech calling on lawmakers to pass gun control legislation. The White House boss added that he had just visited Asia and that this region does not have mass shootings with the same frequency as the United States. Biden once called gun violence in the US an "epidemic", a "disgrace" to the international community.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said he feels fear and outrage about the Robb Elementary School shooting. Murphy also addressed Congress, criticizing colleagues for years of inaction, despite the mass casualties from gun violence.

Former Philadelphia police chief Charles Ramsey expressed similar frustration and outrage at the shooting that left 21 people dead. "Enough is enough, it all has to end. We have to save our children, because these are things that happen every day in our cities," Ramsey said.

Former President Barack Obama also vowed to act quickly to tackle gun violence in the US. America has been paralyzed, he added, not because of fear, but because of pro-gun lobbyists and because Republicans are unwilling to act to prevent mass shootings from happening again.

According to research firm IBISWorld, the firearms manufacturing and trading market in the US is worth about $34 billion, providing jobs for more than 150,000 people.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is considered a powerful lobbyist, having blocked the US Congress from passing gun control bills. According to data from the NGO Open Secrets, the NRA spends about $3 million a year influencing gun policies.

Former Think Progress reporter Igor Volsky has repeatedly pointed out that the NRA continues to contribute to the Republican Party along with its congressmen. However, there are many opinions that the contributions of the NRA are not entirely the reason why Republicans oppose stricter gun control, as evidenced by the fact that in 2014, billionaire Michael Bloomberg decided to try to end the law. End the NRA's influence by providing more money to Republicans to support the gun control order. However, still nothing has changed.

Experts say gun ownership is tied to the Republican identity. The most avid Republican voters see guns as a central part of who they are.

Ted Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas, says the opposition has always tried to use gun attacks to try to deprive people of their Second Amendment to gun ownership. . "When a crime of this kind emerges, it is almost immediately politicized," he said, adding that "attacking the constitutional right to use guns is not effective in stopping this type of crime."

Why hasn't the US been able to prevent mass shootings?

Despite hundreds of mass shootings occurring in the United States each year, Congress has repeatedly failed to pass gun control legislation. The hurdles to enacting stricter gun laws in the US are many and significant, but activists say they won't give up until some changes are made.

How common are mass shootings in the US?

In 2022, 213 mass shootings, defined as those in which at least four people were shot or killed, occurred in the United States, according to the National Gun Violence Archive. In 2021, 692 mass shootings were recorded, compared with 610 in 2020.

The US has recorded other mass shootings this past May. Less than two weeks before the Uvalde shooting, a gunman opened fire at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. This person shot and killed 10 people, the victims were mostly African-American.

What policies have been proposed to address mass shootings?

Gun control advocates have drawn up a sweeping and concrete plan to reduce the number of gun deaths in America. Those policies require mandatory background checks on all gun purchases, including those supervised by unlicensed sellers online or at gun shows.

They have also called for expanding limits on who can legally buy guns. Some have proposed banning people under the age of 21 from buying guns, which may have prevented the 18-year-old Uvalde gunman from obtaining his weapon.

Some states have enacted stricter gun laws, but federal law will strengthen restrictions across the country.

Do Americans support stricter gun laws?

In the US, there is widespread support for certain gun control policies. According to a Morning Consult / Politico survey conducted in 2021, 84% of US voters support universal background checks for gun purchases.

However, opinions were more diverse when Americans were asked for their thoughts on stricter gun laws in general. A November 2021 poll conducted by Gallup found that 52% of Americans support stricter gun control.

Support for a handgun ban also hits a new low in 2021, with just 19% of Americans telling Gallup they would support such a policy.

Some of that hesitation may stem from the fact that tens of millions of Americans own guns. Four out of 10 Americans live in a household with a gun, while 30% say they personally own a gun, according to a 2021 survey by the Pew Research Center.

Has the US Congress enacted a gun control law?

Democrats in the US Congress have repeatedly pushed for stronger gun laws that could help reduce the number of mass shootings in the US. Most notably, Congress tried to pass a compromise bill to expand background checks in 2013, months after the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. That bill failed to overcome Senate objections, as most Republicans and some Democrats opposed the legislation.

After the bill was opposed, former US President Barack Obama then gave a speech, saying it was the fault of the National Rifle Association, which vehemently opposed the law and said it would campaign. against any senator who supported the act.

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