Later On

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America’s gun problem, explained

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German Lopez has a Vox explainer about the US gun problem. It begins with a (somewhat dated) Youtube video from 5 years ago:

Lopez then dives in, and the entire article is worth reading. It begins (and it includes some good charts):

On Monday, it happened again: a mass shooting in America. This time, a gunman killed 10 people at a Boulder, Colorado, grocery store.

Already, the shootings have led to demands for action. “Now is the time!” the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence tweeted.

But if this plays out like the aftermath of past mass shootings, from Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 to Las Vegas in 2017, the chances of Congress taking major action on guns is very low.

This has become an American routine: After every mass shooting, the debate over guns and gun violence starts up once again. Maybe some bills get introduced. Critics respond with concerns that the government is trying to take away their guns. The debate stalls. So even as America continues to experience levels of gun violence unrivaled in the rest of the developed world, nothing happens — no laws are passed by Congress, nothing significant is done to try to prevent the next horror.

So why is it that for all the outrage and mourning with every mass shooting, nothing seems to change? To understand that, it’s important to grasp not just the stunning statistics about gun ownership and gun violence in the United States, but also America’s unique relationship with guns — unlike that of any other developed country — and how it plays out in our politics to ensure, seemingly against all odds, that our culture and laws continue to drive the routine gun violence that marks American life.

1) America’s gun problem is unique

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 of Canada, more than seven times the rate of Sweden, and nearly 16 times that of Germany, according to 2012 United Nations data compiled by the Guardian. (These gun deaths are a big reason America has a much higher overall homicide rate, which includes non-gun deaths, than other developed nations.)

To understand why that is, there’s another important statistic: The US has by far the highest number of privately owned guns in the world. Estimated for 2017, the number of civilian-owned firearms in the US was 120.5 guns per 100 residents, meaning there were more firearms than people. The world’s second-ranked country was Yemen, a quasi-failed state torn by civil war, where there were 52.8 guns per 100 residents, according to an analysis from the 2018 Small Arms Survey.

Another way of looking at that: Americans make up less than 5 percent of the world’s population, yet they own roughly 45 percent of all the world’s privately held firearms.

That does not, however, mean that every American adult actually owns guns. In fact, gun ownership is concentrated among a minority of the US population, as surveys from the Pew Research Center and General Social Survey suggest.

These three basic facts demonstrate America’s unique gun culture. There is a very strong correlation between gun ownership and gun violence — a relationship that researchers argue is at least partly causal. And American gun ownership is beyond anything else in the world. At the same time, these guns are concentrated among a passionate minority, who are typically the loudest critics against any form of gun control and who scare legislators into voting against such measures.

2) More guns mean more gun deaths

The research on this is overwhelmingly clear: No matter how you look at the data, more guns mean more gun deaths.

This is apparent when you look at state-by-state data for gun ownership and gun deaths (including homicides and suicides) within the United States, as this 2013 chart from Mother Jones demonstrates.

And it’s clear when you look at the data for gun ownership and gun deaths (including homicides and suicides) across developed nations. Data compiled in 2018 from GunPolicy.org shows the United States is an extreme outlier in both categories. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more, and the above extract does not include the (highly illuminating) charts that accompany the text. Just one of the charts is shown below.

The problem is the US Senate. The House has passed measures that would help — for example, better background check protocols — but the Senate will not act.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 March 2021 at 12:06 pm

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