Gun crime in America – just another part of modern society
Gun crime has always been a prominent issue for the USA, placing it extremely high in the global ranking for deaths related to gun crime (especially whilst being a developed country) and unfortunately, it still retains its high rates today. In 2014, the rate of deaths due to guns was on average 10.5 people per 100,000, with 3.5 out of 100,000 due to homicide. Although for many this may appear low, considering the extremely large population of the USA, this totalled around 34,000 deaths due to guns in 2014 alone. This shows the huge issue of gun crime in the US, and makes many question why this continues to happen- already in 2018, 2,807 people have been killed by guns and over 10,000 have been injured, shocking both US citizens and people across the world.
Whilst many of these incidents are shown across the globe, gaining widespread international attention, such as the Las Vegas shooting in October 2017, killing 58, and the recent Florida school shooting that killed 17 students and teachers, the majority of shootings in the USA are ignored by the global media, diminishing negative publicity for the USA as the world’s leading economy. For example, on 13th March 2018, a man in North Dakota was shot and killed by police following a car chase; after it was ‘suspected’ that he had weapons in his car. Such brutality is not an uncommon incident in the US, with crimes such as this happening constantly; despite it being such a serious issue however, the majority of them fail to gain any sort of global recognition.
However, despite the sheer number of gun related deaths that occur that are not heavily mediated, many people across the world are nonetheless aware of the atrocities that take place inside the US, leading many to question why it is such a common occurrence. The answer clearly lies in America’s laws regarding the ownership of guns. It is written into the US Constitution that individuals have the right to bear arms, which is enforced in 44 out of 50 states with further laws, and legally, anyone over the age of 18 who also undergoes a fairly brief background check, is allowed to have a permit, thereby allowing them to purchase a gun. However, shockingly, in some states, people are allowed to carry handguns without needing a permit, meaning that basically anyone is able to purchase a gun in certain states. The results of these laws are shocking, the fact that for every 100 people in the USA, there are on average 101.05 guns, meaning that there are more guns than people in the USA! In addition, officers are allowed to shoot criminals if they feel they are under threat, as well as citizens if clearly carried out in self-defence. However, sometimes the victim can be completely innocent, or even if not entirely, do not deserve death for their crimes.
So what could be done to prevent this? Many argue that the USA should look to other countries as a model to change their gun laws and help to reduce their rate of gun-related deaths. Japan, for example, makes it extremely difficult for their citizens to buy guns- they believe that guns as a whole do not have a role in civilian society. In addition, the vast majority of their police do not carry guns, and are instead trained in martial arts to prevent the shooting of possibly innocent people. The effectiveness of Japan’s strict regulations regarding guns is obvious- it has the lowest rate of gun violence in the developed world, with only 0.6 out of 100,000 dying as a result of guns in 2015; this is only around 760 deaths in an entire year, which is only slightly more than the amount the USA has in one week. This has led many to question why the US does not look at the lack of gun violence in other nations in comparison to them, and do something as a result.
Of course, it is never as simple as that. Despite many marches, demonstrations and petitions to the government asking for a change in the US’s gun laws, nothing has been done. The US Constitution is codified, meaning that any change to it is hard to enforce, as it is so entrenched in society. In addition, despite the number of people who beg to have the laws changed, many of the population still argue that is a fundamental right for them to be able to own a gun, as shown in a recent survey, where 73% agreed that citizens should hold the right to bear arms. Even more scarily, 37% of Americans see mass shootings as just another inevitable part of society that can never be prevented, thereby showing the reasoning behind a lack of motivation from the government to change gun laws, as many people just accept gun crime as the norm- after all, if the people do not seem to want change, why should the government put time, effort and money into making and enforcing that change?
Which leads on to the final question- will the USA ever change? Eventually, the answer is likely to be yes; as the world becomes more interconnected, and as more and more news is shared on a global scale, it is likely that the US will receive even more petition from outsiders to change its gun laws which may just about push them to make some changes to their system. However, being the most powerful country in the world, they are able to, for the most part, look over the weak attempts of other nations to force them to change, and are able to carry on with their own ways of life. In addition, there seems to be a lack of a real want for change from a large chunk of the population, who seem to not care about it at all, and also, the uproar that it would cause among the vast majority of people who believe it is their right to own a gun, is simply not worth the effort. So in the future, yes, the US may change their laws, when the pressure eventually becomes too much to deal with, but for now at least, they seem to be fully cemented in their view that gun crime is ‘just another part of modern society’.