America- Home of The Free, Land of The Mass Murdering Weapons
In the video clip above, you can hear students scream for their lives and hide under their desks as a gunman let off hundreds of rounds in the classrooms of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. As a result, Time Magazine confirmed that 17 students and staff members were pronounced dead on February 14th of 2018. It is currently the deadliest school shooting to date since the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where an active shooter claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults. According to data collected from the Gun Violence Archive, as of October 27th of 2018, a total of 293 mass shootings have occurred in the United States thus far; equating to almost a mass shooting for every day of the year. These petrifying numbers have not only left parents and classmates mourning the loss of these innocent victims but have citizens all across the United States fearing for their safety in everyday life, begging for something to change.
Why does this keep happening?
After every mass shooting, a political uproar arises causing Democrats arguing for common sense gun reform and Republicans defending an individual’s right to bear arms. Arguments of America's poor mental health care, racial divisions in which have strained the bonds of society, and violent American culture as shown in movies, music, and video games are debated and blamed for these massacres. Although, when comparing the United States and other highly developed countries, an ever-growing body of research consistently explains that America’s undisputed widespread of guns is the reason for these excessive mass shootings
According to Small Arms Survey, the United States only makes up 4 percent of the world’s population but is home to 50 percent of civilian-owned firearms around the world. With approximately 393 million guns in the hands of American citizens, the reason the United States experiences more mass shootings than any other country in the world can be seen in the correlation between gun ownership and gun violence seen in the following charts.
Gun Ownership vs. Gun violence
It’s not just the United States, other developed countries such as Canada and Finland experience more gun deaths when gun ownership is increased. Countries such as Switzerland, Germany, and Sweden remain below linear correlation attributable to their stricter gun laws. For example, after Germany suffered from multiple school shootings and gun-related crime in the last decade, Firearms-Control Legislation passed laws containing, “a highly differentiated regime for licensing the acquisition, possession, and carrying of permitted weapons that restricts, according to criteria of need, the number and types of guns that can be owned or purchased, and has specific age restrictions for different types of weapons.” The current Weapons Act bans automatic weapons, regulates the production of firearms, and has reporting stipulations that authorize the tracing of every legally owned firearm.
Current U.S Gun Policy
Unlike Germany, the United States has done little to nothing to stop mass shootings from happening. In the wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting students have taken action protesting for gun reform and change seen in the image above. With the current federal gun laws, there have been several loopholes and flaws that have allowed ineligible people such as the mentally ill, drug abusers, and convicted criminals to buy guns legally. Even though a CNN poll conducted by the SSRS discovered that “ 87 percent of Americans back laws to prevent convicted felons and people with mental health problems from obtaining guns, 71 percent support raising the age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 years old, and 63 percent want a ban on the sale and possession of high-capacity or extended ammunition magazines.” Although more than half of Americans want stricter gun laws, bills and amendments continue to sit in limbo on Capitol Hill as lawmakers, a majority of them being Republicans, refuse to consider and vote for any new legislation.