It has been one year since the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and since then there have been at least seven more mass shootings in America. Just the latest, on Friday, December 13, a school shooter in Littleton, Colorado mortally injured a student and took his own life.
Mother Jones released an analysis of gun violence in America which reveals that at least 194 children under the age of 13 have died in gun accidents, homicides, or suicides since the Newtown shooting. The locations and circumstances of the deaths were widespread; the average age of the victims was shockingly just six years old. According to a Mother Jones study conducted over the last decade, an average of about 200 children die from guns every year in this country.
The Mother Jones study is just one estimation. The true toll of gun violence in this country is unknown. Research by two surgeons in Boston suggest that the actual annual death rate might be closer to 500, and that is only taking into account deaths. Gun injuries are another serious issue, and an estimated 7,500 Americans are hospitalized from gunshot wounds every year, according to the Boston surgeons.
America has the highest rate of gun violence of any developed country in the world, by a significant margin. The rate is four times higher than that of Canada, the number two developed country for gun violence.
The analysis of gun-related deaths since Newtown shows that the death rates were the highest in the southern states, where the gun laws are the most permissive. Texas had the highest rate of deaths due to guns – 19. It is probably no coincidence that the state enacted 10 new laws deregulating guns over the last year. Florida, which also has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the country, had the second highest death rate, at 17.
The connection is clear: more gun availability tends to lead to more gun violence.
Now of course, correlation does not always mean causation, but in this case it is safe to assume it does, because the aforementioned conclusion makes logical sense as well. If it is easier for citizens, law abiding or not, to have guns in their homes, then there is a greater risk of gun accidents for the owner, their friends, and their children.
Most gun owners own them for sport or self defense, but a 2004 report from Journal Sentinel shows that that’s not what they are actually being used for. According to the journal, a gun is 22 times more likely to be used in an assault, homicide, accidental shooting, or suicide than it is to be used on an intruder. This study is a little dated, and like any statistical study, its methodology could be questioned, but it is still one of numerous sources that reveal that guns do not make people safer; they do just the opposite.
There is no panacea or instant solution for the issue of gun violence, and every proposed effort to fight it seems to raise a new array of problems. With powerful interest groups like the NRA (National Rifle Association) defending gun rights, it can be exceedingly difficult to enact anti-gun legislation, especially in states where the NRA has a lot of influence. The best measure to take is to limit the accessibility of guns while still keeping our right to own them. Guns have proven too dangerous, even in the hands of law abiding citizens.