Gun violence has been an increasingly contentious, high-stakes issue in the United States for years, touching off heated debates about the Second Amendment, gun control policy, and the high homicide rates that plague so many parts of the country, particularly those inhabited by poor and minority communities. Despite these debates and discourses, it is clear that something needs to be done to mitigate gun violence in the United States on an alarmingly regular basis.
The problem of gun violence in the United States is an epidemic. According to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that has provided accurate data on gun violence since 2013, there were 53,556 incidents of gun violence in 2020 alone. In total, that year saw 70,579 deaths and injuries- 13,862 fatalities. This number doesn’t even factor in severe gunshot wounds resulting in long-term health complications. As this news outlet has reported, the use of guns in the United States is mainly responsible for driving up the death rate in many countries and cities.
The rate of gun violence in the United States is substantially higher than the average rate in other developed countries. This is due, in part, to the availability of weapons in the United States- it is estimated that a shocking 393 million firearms are held by civilians in the United States, with a corresponding level of 87 guns for every 100 people. This estimate is twice as high as the rate in any other country.
The current US federal policy on guns and gun control is not enough to address the formidable rate of gun violence and gun-related homicides in the United States. Clearly, the United States needs to implement meaningful and comprehensive gun control policies, particularly regarding stricter background checks, better laws and enforcement against straw purchasing, and consistent funding for mental health services in at-risk communities.
It has been proposed that the federal government should implement comprehensive gun licensing and registration with universal background checks. In addition, stronger laws should be to punish gun trafficking and illegal possession, ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and even create Buyback Programs to reduce the availability of illegal firearms by purchasing them back from the public.
Ultimately, no one solution will put a stop to the steep rates of gun violence in the United States. It will take rigorous gun control laws, enforcement of existing gun-related laws, education and training programs, community-based solutions, and more investment in mental health care and social services in high-risk communities. These steps, taken together, could make a real difference in reducing the rate of gun violence in the United States.