Why is gun violence so prevalent in the U.S.? This question is one that has many answers. A plethora of factors contribute to the vast quantity of gun violence incidents. These can be small factors, such as time of day, or larger factors, such as the number of citizens that have easy access to firearms. Gun violence should be considered a prevalent issue that can be solved with gun control because many individuals are uneducated about guns, individuals with serious mind-altering conditions are not getting proper help, and gun laws are extremely loose.
Initially, gun violence occurs in great quantities partly due to the lack of knowledge about guns among the public. This is the case, especially in households with a combination of firearms and young children. Guns are proven to be just as or even more deadly inside one’s home than outside of it. “Among children, the majority (89%) of unintentional shooting deaths occur in the home.”('Gun Violence: Facts and Statistics 2019). These unintentional shooting deaths could have been prevented if there were no loaded guns in these households or if the individuals in the house were educated about guns.
Gun violence negatively affects children in the U.S. to a great extent. These negative effects have the potential to alter or end the lives of these children. According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, “In 2015, 2,824 children (age 0 to 19 years) died by gunshot and an additional 13,723 were injured.”('Gun Violence: Facts and Statistics 2019). A majority of the causes for these deaths and injuries are due to accidental shootings. Therefore, if the individuals behind these shootings were educated about guns and gun violence, these instances may have very well been avoided.
Another factor that contributes to gun violence deaths or injuries due to a lack of education about guns is access prevention precautions. Access prevention precautions and lack thereof are proven to contribute to gun violence trends among children. “Studies have shown that states with Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws have a lower rate of unintentional death than states without CAP laws.”('Gun Violence: Facts and Statistics 2019). These laws are put into place in order to protect the lives of children, therefore it is reasonable that states without them would suffer from a higher trend of accidental shootings among children. In this sense, the legislature of the states without CAP laws is uneducated about the harm that guns can bring.
Many individuals are not informed about firearm safety until they are teenagers. Informing them of these important things at such a late stage in life may cause the information to not resonate with them. In addition to this, it may be too late at this stage to change any already formulated opinions about guns and gun violence. It is advised that children be taught as early as possible the dangers of gun violence and gun safety. If children learn these things at an early stage, it will stick with them and they will be less likely to have conflicting thoughts about the matter later in their life('American Psychological Association').
Interestingly enough, male perspectives on masculinity contribute to gun violence just as much as other factors do. Males who act tough because it is the ideal trait of a male in society are more prone to committing gun violence than those who accept themselves for whoever they are. This false sense of toughness can lead to them neglecting common knowledge about firearm safety in order to fit the social standard of masculinity. “The skills and knowledge of psychologists are needed to develop and evaluate programs and settings in schools, workplaces, prisons, neighborhoods, clinics, and other relevant contexts that aim to change gendered expectations for males that emphasize self-sufficiency, toughness, and violence, including gun violence.”('American Psychological Association'). The shift in the standard is proven to lead to less violence overall due to pent-up emotions and facades.
Subsequently, many instances of gun violence, including mass shootings, occur due to individuals with mind-altering conditions not getting proper help. Though mass shootings occur frequently in the U.S., it can be tricky to identify the exact definition of one because they can be interpretable from person to person. This is due to the fact that different people have different cognitions, or perceptions, of certain ideas and events. As officially stated by Gun Violence Archive’s Mark Bryant, “Well, we define mass shootings as any incident where four or more victims are shot or killed.”('Understanding The Scale Of Gun Violence In America' 2019). This statement provides an official definition of the matter from the director of a web page outlining gun violence statistics.
As with many situations, anything can be a variable in causing someone to do something. In the same sense, anything can make someone more or less likely to use a firearm against someone. One of the main variables that contribute to this is mental health. Mental health can decline swiftly if one does not get the proper help for it, which can make someone do things they would not normally do. In extreme cases, mental health can also cause someone to use a firearm against someone with the intention of wrongfully harming them('American Psychological Association').
Mostly due to individuals who require assistance with their mental states but are not receiving this help, a large number of deaths by guns in the U.S. occur due to mass shootings. Compared to other countries, the U.S. has astonishingly more mass shooting incidents. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been a total of 342 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2019('Gun Violence Archive'). These increasing mass shooting rates continuously put citizens at risk. Unfortunately, these numbers show no signs of decreasing any time soon.
Of course, declining mental health might cause an individual to use a firearm on one’s own self instead of harming others. If they have such mind-altering conditions, it would be even more detrimental to one’s safety to own a firearm than not. Ownership of guns contributes greatly to heightened suicide rates. “Suicide rates are much higher in states with higher rates of gun ownership,”('Gun Violence: Facts and Statistics' 2019). Of course, more differing factors from state to state could contribute to the trend, yet it is likely that gun ownership is one of the main factors.
Many instances of violence can directly lead to gun violence. For instance, domestic violence can escalate quickly and can even turn deadly on its own. However, “Domestic violence is more likely to turn deadly with a gun in the home. An abusive partner’s access to a firearm increases the risk of homicide eight-fold for women in physically abusive relationships.”('Gun Violence: Facts and Statistics 2019). In this case, the aggressor’s mind-altering condition could be temporary spurts of anger causing them to commit this violence in a fit of rage. The risk presented by the introduction of a firearm in certain violent situations is one that is easily a dangerous one.
The latter cause of increasing gun violence is the leniency of gun control laws in the U.S. Many trends relating to gun violence are increasing due to this leniency as the years go by. These trends continue to grow with seemingly no cease to their progress. Such a trend is gun violence itself. Gun violence incidents are increasing from year to year('Understanding The Scale Of Gun Violence In America' 2019).
Many deaths in the U.S. can be related to gun violence. The Gun Violence Archive outlines that there have been a total of 31,778 deaths related to gun violence this year alone('Gun Violence Archive'). When taking into account the deaths due to gun violence in past years, the amount adds up quickly. The causes of these deaths are mostly direct, such as suicide or homicide. In general, many deaths are caused indirectly by the failure to put effective gun control laws in place.
Interestingly, gun violence incidents occur more in specific areas than in other areas. For example, more gun violence incidents occur closer to the east coast than on the west coast ('Gun Violence Archive'). This may be due to several factors. These factors include where the capital is, how many people live in a certain area, the differing gun laws from state to state, and gun ownership in general. Depending on the factors, the results and data may vary greatly or little.
Even though mass shootings occur as frequently as they do, they are still not the most common type of gun violence. Many other types of gun violence occur much more frequently, such as accidental shootings and shootings where only one person was killed or injured. Astonishingly, mass shootings make up approximately only 5% of all gun violence incidents in America. An evident cause of the prevalence of gun violence is the loose nature of gun control laws, which let many individuals purchase firearms and ammunition, regardless of their intent('Understanding The Scale Of Gun Violence In America' 2019).
An abundance of factors contributes to the number of injuries and deaths resulting from a mass shooting. Some factors include the density of the area, the number of rounds the shooter has, and also the magazine capacity of the shooter’s firearm. Guns with high magazine capacity are one of the main reasons for the increase in the lethality of mass shootings(('Understanding The Scale Of Gun Violence In America' 2019). The more rounds a shooter’s magazine, or the part of the gun that holds the rounds that are ready to be transferred to its chamber, can hold, the more shots that the shooter will be able to take. Firearms with high-round capacity magazines can be purchased at many gun stores in the U.S., making them easily accessible to anyone in the county.
Many instances of domestic abuse occur in the United States. As such, a majority of Americans own firearms as well. When a domestic dispute escalates violently, having a loaded firearm in the vicinity often causes it to turn deadly. “During the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, 5,364 US soldiers were killed in action between Oct. 7, 2001, and Jan. 28, 2015; between 2001 and 2012 6,410 women were killed with a gun by an intimate partner in the United States.”('Pros & Cons - ProCon.org'). This comparison displays how domestic disputes involving guns are even deadlier than these wars combined.
Individuals within the United States who own guns are protected by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. According to ProCon, “The United States has 120.5 guns per 100 people, or about 393,347,000 guns, which is the highest total and per capita number in the world.”(https://gun-control.procon.org). This means that some Americans own around one to two guns on average, with some owning none or more than two. In addition, “22% of Americans own one or more guns (35% of men and 12% of women).”('Pros & Cons - ProCon.org'). This excess of firearms in the hands of citizens can easily turn deadly, either accidentally or purposefully, if these firearms are put in the wrong hands.
The dangers of mass shootings and gun violence, in general, are widely known. Certain types of firearms, such as ones with high-capacity magazines, can contribute greatly to these dangers. In a majority of mass shootings, the shooter used these high-capacity magazines. To be exact, this type of magazine was used in at least 50% of mass shootings from 1982 to 2012. The figure further displays the danger of citizens owning high-capacity magazines, as they are often, but not always, used to cause harm('Pros & Cons - ProCon.org').
Many people own guns in case they are in need of self-protection. This explains that their ownership of excess amounts of firearms is not caused by malicious intent, yet by a fear for their safety. However, firearms are often not used in defense of people involved in potentially threatening situations. “Of the 29,618,300 violent crimes committed between 2007 and 2011, 0.79% of victims (235,700) protected themselves with a threat of use or use of a firearm, the least-employed protective behavior.”('Pros & Cons - ProCon.org'). Even though 235,700 people are a large number of lives that were saved, it is still only a small portion of the total violent crimes that occurred without using a gun in defense.
Preventing people who have a record from obtaining firearms has proven its efficiency. “Firearm prohibitions for high-risk groups - domestic violence offenders, persons convicted of violent misdemeanor crimes, and individuals with mental illness who have been adjudicated as being a threat to themselves or to others — have been shown to reduce violence.”('American Psychological Association'). These prohibitions see fit that people who are considered unstable in society cannot have legal access to firearms. This is highly appropriate, as this law keeps dangerous offenders from becoming repeat offenders. Nevertheless, this law is one that places America one step closer to a lower gun violence rate.
Some sources assert that gun violence rates should not cause the enactment of gun control laws. According to ProCon, “The Second Amendment of the US Constitution protects individual gun ownership.”('Pros & Cons - ProCon.org'). Although the Second Amendment does guarantee individuals’ rights to own and bear arms, there should be a limit to how much the amendment protects when it leads to an overwhelming amount of injuries and deaths each year. In addition to this, it is also argued that gun control laws would obstruct one’s right to defend themself in dangerous situations('Pros & Cons - ProCon.org'); however, this point can be easily disproved by the fact that only 0.79% of victims to dangerous crimes from 2007 to 2011 had defended themselves with a firearm or any other weapon('Pros & Cons - ProCon.org'). Another point made by ProCon in opposition to gun safety laws is that “Gun control laws will not prevent criminals from obtaining guns or breaking laws.”('Pros & Cons - ProCon.org'). While this is an accurate observation, gun control laws will make it more difficult for criminals to obtain these firearms, therefore discouraging them from committing gun-related crimes altogether. ProCon then outlines yet another reason for the opposition to gun safety laws: the enactment of said laws may result in government tyranny and unjust rule('Pros & Cons - ProCon.org'). This reasoning is mostly based on speculation and the observation of other countries' people’s rights being taken away slowly. Just because tyranny due to rights being revoked occurs often does not mean it will occur all the time. One of the last arguments ProCon makes is that “More gun control is not needed; education about guns and gun safety is needed to prevent accidental gun deaths.”('Pros & Cons - ProCon.org'). While the second half of the statement is true, gun control and gun education could be used together in order to lessen gun violence incidents as a whole. In short, the argument that gun control laws infringe upon the rights of Americans, is unnecessary, and will lead to government tyranny is outweighed when juxtaposed with the safety that these laws will bring about to the citizens of the country.
In conclusion, gun violence should be considered a prevalent issue in the U.S. because of the vast amount of harm it brings to the people of America. In order to prevent this harm, individuals need to be educated about gun safety from a young age, as well as this idea needs to be reinforced throughout one’s life. Another solution to gun violence’s prevalence would be to see fit that people with mental health issues get the help that is appropriate for them. A final solution that would lower the number of gun violence incidents in the U.S. would be to put into place more strict gun control laws without taking away the people’s Second Amendment rights. These solutions would put America in the right direction to resolving the prevalence of gun violence.