Just about every week it seems like you can open up a newspaper, turn on a television or log onto the Internet and hear about another shooting, whether it is in a school, office building or mall; these shootings often occur between individuals who do not know each other. While the majority of gun violence does occur between individuals who do know one another, it still points to a rather alarmingly high rate of gun violence in the United States. Gun violence in America is something most will agree needs to go down, but the method of getting there is something that might prove difficult to ever be reached, simply due to the ideological differences between each side. However, to at least paint out a portrait of gun violence in the United States, it is important to look at statistics on gun violence.
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The United States is by far the leading consumer of guns. In fact, there is an average of 89 guns per 100 citizens in the United States. Yemen, which is second on the list of gun toting nations, has 55 firearms per 100 and Switzerland is third with 46 per 100. Some guns do not require any sort of registration, while those that do include machine guns, shotguns and rifles with barrels shorter than 18 inches and silencers. As of 2012 there are more than 488,000 machine guns owned by citizens in the United States and over two million devices classified as “destructive devices,” including grenades. States generally have their own registration laws, but very few actually have any. New Jersey requires individuals to register assault weapons, Hawaii requires registration of handguns and long guns, Michigan requires registration for handguns, and California and New York require registration for both handguns and assault weapons.
Mass Shooting Statistics
There is often the claim that mass shootings would go down if stricter guidelines to obtain a firearm is ever implemented. However, that might not be the case, as gun violence statistics indicate that between 1982 and 2012, 61 mass murders took place with firearms (a mass murder is defined as four or more individuals killed in the same location or by the same group of people over a short period of time). Of these 61 mass murders, 49 obtained their weapons legally while only 11 did not. Authorities are not sure about one of the shootings and how the individual obtained their firearms.
While gun violence is not necessarily unique to the United States, it is unique to the rest of the world. In fact, over the last 50 years, 15 of the 25 worst mass shootings in the entire world have taken place in the United States. The only other country to appear on the list is Finland, with two shootings. On top of this, of the 11 deadliest shootings in United States history, five have taken place since 2007. This means, of the 25 worst shootings in the history of the world (outside of war), five have taken place in the United States in the last seven years. This makes the United States one of the most violent industrialized nation in the entire world. Assault deaths have dipped in the United States over the past three decades though, as in 1979, nearly 10 deaths per 100,000 individuals took place in the US, while this number is down to around five. Of course, the average for the rest of the world, depending on the nation looked at, is anywhere from just under two to slightly over zero per 100,000.
In terms of location, gun control statistics point to the southern United States as the most violent region in all of the US. Over seven assault deaths per 100,000 take place in the south. The next highest is, as of recently, the Midwest, which is just over five. The West is about 4.75, while the Northeast sits at around 4.25 per 100,000 individuals. The Harvard Injury Control Research Center has looked over all of the mass shootings and shooting statistics, along with gun ownership, and has found that more guns generally means more homicides in the United States. This also tends to hold true in different countries around the world as well, so nations with more guns are also more likely to see higher gun violence.
Statistics show that states with stricter gun control laws tend to have fewer deaths from gun violence. The study showed that more stress, immigration, mental illness and higher population did not lead to more deaths but instead, states with more gun control laws typically had fewer shootings and deaths from gun related violence than other states. Florida and Texas, for example, are the only Southern States outside of North Carolina and Virginia to have some sort of firearm law in place, and they have the lowest number of shootings. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa all have regulations in place in the Midwest, and these states have the lowest in the region (Michigan is slightly higher, but this is believed to be related more to the significant downtown of the economy due to the loss of automotive jobs and a high unemployment rate than its lack of gun control). In the Northeast, New York has the lowest percentage of gun violence, and it also, along with California, possesses the strictest gun registration laws in the country. California also has the lowest percentage of gun violence in the West as well.
While gun control statistics appear to showcase the reduction of gun related violence, it is not a popular topic, as actually 54 percent of Americans want less strict gun laws. All of this comes down to how someone believes and even interprets the Second Amendment, which is actually about bearing arms in order to uphold the militia (which is based on the English Bill of Rights from the 1600s). However, the debate is going to continue as to what exactly needs to be done to correct the violence.