Last updated on June 19, 2022
America is the undisputed gun capital of the entire world. A study conducted by the Small Arms Survey found that there are over 393 million civilian owned firearms in the United States. That’s enough for every man, woman and child to own one and still have 67 million guns left over.
Unsurprisingly, the simply unfathomable amount of weapons ensues in numerous consequences. Among developed nations, the US has the highest rate of gun violence by far. Every day over 110 Americans meet their death at the impact of a bullet, including suicides and homicides. This is an average of 40,060 people killed each year. Since 2009 there has been a yearly amount of 19 mass shootings. Children, one of the most vulnerable demographics, have been especially at risk.
For decades the leading cause of death for individuals age 1-19 was car crashes. That title now belongs to gun violence.
Researchers at the University of Michigan arrived at the startling data point that while fire-arm deaths overall increased by 13.5% between 2019 and 2020, among children and adolescents they surged a significant 30%.
Between 2015 and 2019 roughly 8,000 children and teens were shot on average and 1,600 were fatally wounded and died. Of those who lose their lives 52% were murdered, 40% died by sucide and 5% were killed accidently. This information can be attributed to the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence.
Just recently another massacre taking place in Uvalde, Texas, shattered another piece of the nation’s soul and created a massive surge of grief. The shooting was especially devastating considering it occurred mere weeks after the Buffalo grocery store shooting, which left many feeling raw and distraught.
Unfortunately, these rampant acts of savagery occur with such regularity, such precise brutality that numbness creeps in. It is perhaps sometimes easier to feel nothing rather than the weight of the splintered sky and the dry Earth atop children’s graves.
However, along with the deep sorrow, questions arise. Why has our government, despite repeating tragedies, failed to make any significant alterations to gun laws? The answer is resounding. The immense power granted to each state in the senate and the infamous filibuster rule.
The last major debate over gun control in the senate occurred in 2013 in the aftermath of the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. The vote was on a measure to require background checks on all those interested in purchasing a gun. The filibuster rule requires 60 senators to vote in favor of the bill however, only 54 did. Thus, the legislature was unable to proceed.
For any substantial gun control reforms to be implemented, the filibuster’s worth, as a rule, must be reconsidered. Robert Lynch, a US Representative explains, “It has been a moderating tool in the past, but now it’s really used as a weapon, it stops all debate, so I think there is some modification that should be considered”.
Gun culture is part of the very essence of America. It is ingrained in our history but that doesn’t mean its cruelty and destruction have to be in our future. Despite the right to own a weapon, there is never a right to kill senselessly. There is never a right to have an outpouring of rage that results in tragedy. Just like communities come together to mourn our losses, we must also come together to fight the inaction that has led to atrocities. We must demand better from our politicians. We must do everything in our power to prevent the continuation of the merciless war on public safety.