With only 4.4% of the world’s population, the US has 42% of the world’s guns. And this year alone, the country has already seen 34 mass shootings and over 2,100 people dead due to gun crime. Only war-torn Yemen has more mass shootings per 100 million people than the US. Some people blame racial division. Others; the culture or mental health. But what’s the real reason for so much gun crime in the US?
Racial Diversity and Immigration
When looking at Europe, there’s no difference in gun crime between countries with high levels of racial diversity and immigration and those with lower levels. With Europe largely as developed as the US, this means that these factors are unlikely to cause higher levels of gun crime there too.
Mental health isn’t that big a deal either. A study has estimated that only 4% of US gun deaths are due to mental illness. More than this, countries with high suicide rates tend to have lower rates of mass shootings- the opposite of what you’d expect if mental health were the main issue here.
Maybe They’re Just More Violent?
Some people feel that the high rate of gun crime in the US is caused the popularity of gun violence in video games. But not only have studies shown that there is no link between playing video games and gun violence, others have shown that the US does not have higher crime rates than other countries.
What they did find however is that crime in the US tends to be more lethal. Although a New Yorker has the same chance of being robbed as a Londoner, the New Yorker is 54 times more likely to be killed in the process- often by gun.
So What’s Left?
The only factor left to explain the US’s gun violence is gun ownership. Studies have continuously shown that more access to guns leads to more gun crime- and this is true among developed countries, American states, and American towns and cities.
Looking at the numbers, 33 people out of every million in the US died from gun violence in 2009. In Britain and Canada, the figures were 0.7 per million and 5 per million- unsurprisingly, gun ownership in these countries is a lot lower too.
And to top it all off, a recent analysis of 130 studies shows that the best way to prevent gun crime is to have gun control laws in place.
After a mass shooting in 1987, the UK enforced strict gun control laws. Australia did the same in 1996. The US however, despite its high rate of shootings, has largely dodged similar legislation.
But things may be changing. Aside from countless protests across the country demanding tighter gun controls following the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, President Trump has signed an order to ban bump stocks (devices that can make semi-automatic rifles fire as quickly as machine guns). Stricter controls on buying firearms are also being discussed by the government.
To conclude, despite what some may believe, research has shown that the more people who own guns, the more gun crime there is. Although the US has not made as much progress on gun legislation as similar countries, it seems to have started taking gun control more seriously.