Gun-related deaths are an exponentially increasing problem in the United States, and implementing broader and stricter regulations could help to combat it.
Crime, specifically violent crime, is growing exponentially in the United States. Sadly, homicides, mass shootings, and robberies dominate the news on any given day. And while there is a slew of reasons why violent crime is escalating at alarming rates, one of the most prevalent reasons relates to an outright failure to regulate guns properly.
First, let’s illustrate the hard metrics. Data from the FBI reveals that since 2021 murder rates in the US have spiked by 4.3%. And according to the Pew Research Center, guns are the weapon used in 79% of all murders that occur in the United States. In 2022 alone, over 20,000 homicide victims died a fire-arm-related death, according to The Trace.
At the same time that gun-related deaths are increasing, the number of guns in the United States continues to grow. In 2020, it was estimated that nearly 20 million new guns were purchased. In 1970, that number was around 5 million – that amounts to a 300% increase in gun ownership (and that figure only accounts for the guns that are actually registered). And despite many holding the belief that more guns keep people safer, numerous studies have proven this not to be the case, per The Scientific American.
In fact, gun-related deaths tend to be highest in states with laxer laws. Referencing statistics from the CDC, gun-related death rates are the highest in Mississippi, Louisiana, Wyoming, Missouri, and Alabama. These states also have some of the laxest gun laws in the US. In contrast, states with stricter laws tend to have far lower gun-related death rates.
New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, and Hawaii have some of the strictest gun laws in the country and also the lowest gun-related death rates. That said, it’s important to note that correlation does not inherently equal causation. Still, it’s impossible to ignore such a stark trend.
In addition to more guns not making people safer, it also hinders the police from properly doing their jobs. This is especially true in states with open carry laws. In an interview with Jon Stewart, John W. Mina, a Florida police sheriff, highlighted how more guns and open carry laws stop law enforcement from being able to do their jobs effectively. He specifically pointed out his concern related to Florida’s attempt to pass a permitless carry law.
Mina explained that last year over 7,000 gun-owning individuals that applied for a permit to carry a firearm in Florida were turned down. However, the new permitless carry law would mean that those 7,000 people who were turned down for varying reasons will now be able to carry a firearm freely in public. “Go ask the street cop what he thinks about encountering lots of people with guns stuck in their waistbands…It’s not going to make our communities safer,” said Mina, before lamenting that, “Somewhere along the way, we stopped listening to law enforcement.”
Furthermore, one does not have to examine hard data or even speak to the police to realize that gun violence and the gun-related deaths that occur due to that violence are an enormous issue in the United States. On March 27, 2023, three children and three adults lost their lives at a school in Nashville, Tennessee. On April 12, 2023, five people lost their lives at the hands of an active shooter at a bank in Louisville, Kentucky.
Those two tragic events made national news, but the 18 that occurred in the days in between them did not. To date, at least 154 mass shootings have occurred in 2023 alone. Well over 200 people have lost their lives, and over 500 more have been wounded.
Guns Are A Problem, Can The Problem Be Helped?
Looking at the data, it is clear that the United States has a problem with gun violence. So what can help this problem? Or perhaps the more apt question is — can it be helped? Is the gun-loving United States doomed to endure an ever-increasing litany of violent crime?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple solution, nor any easy answers. However, there is one obvious way to mitigate the problem, and it may not be the only way, but it is certainly one way — make guns more difficult to obtain. This can be done by enacting red flag laws (laws that help to prevent potentially dangerous people from obtaining guns) and requiring all firearms to be registered. At the very least, implementations such as those will help to keep guns out of the hands of people in which they would be most dangerous.
Unfortunately, an unending reverence for the 2nd amendment is deeply engrained into the cultural vernacular of the United States. This is especially true in right-leaning states. As a result, there is great difficulty in trying to get reasonable gun regulations, like red flag laws, enforced.
For instance, Nathan Dahm, a state senator of Oklahoma, is vehemently against implementing any type of gun control regulations. Dahm is against permits, background checks, and, as Jon Stewart pointed out in an interview with the Senator, Dahm is against “…anything that could help law enforcement or society determine whether or not a person is a good guy with a gun or a bad guy with a gun.”
Regardless of one’s position on the matter, what cannot be ignored is that US citizens are dying. Kids are dying. And they are dying senseless deaths. Numbers don’t lie, guns are a problem, and a collaborative solution must be reached nationwide if there is to be a chance at combatting it.