Estimations for the number of guns in civilian hands in America vary, but it’s around the same figure as the population, which stands at about 320 million.
Guns in the U.S. can be legally purchased through a variety of retail options, with gun shows being one of them. Increasingly, a lot of sales are also being done online.
As you can see in the BBC News video below, at a gun show a U.S. citizen can easily buy anything from a modern assault weapon-style hunting rifle, to an assortment of military collectibles, and it can be done at ease.
Perhaps too much ease, as gun shows have been criticized for their very lax background check requirements.
See the BBC News video report here about a gun show in the U.S.:
Guns are a part of America’s national psyche, and they’re seen as a symbol of the country’s freedom and liberty. The right to bear arms is also protected under the second amendment of the U.S. constitution.
Either way, since 2009 gun sales have been booming in the U.S., often spiked when a frustrated President Barack Obama, upset by gun violence, talks about a need to introduce gun control measures.
Attempts by President Obama to tighten gun laws has met stiff resistance from pro-gun elements in American society, including the opposing Republican Party who control the U.S. Congress.
In his last year in office, President Obama has now announced he is introducing a range of gun control measures that are not very dramatic.
Watch this BBC News video about what people in a rural part of Oregon think about President Obama’s attempt to tighten gun laws:
The limited scale of what President Obama is doing is pretty much all he is capable of without the backing of Congress, who oppose any of his gun control initiatives.
According to the BBC, President Obama’s executive actions include:
- Background checks required to be done by all gun sellers, including online and gun show sellers.
- States need to make available details on individuals barred from purchasing firearms because of mental illness or domestic violence issues.
- Employing 230 FBI staff to conduct background checks.
- Congress is being requested to devote $500m to improving access to mental healthcare in America.
- Relevant government departments to conduct research into smart gun technology to help improve gun safety.
Even the spokesperson from the National Rifle Association (N.R.A.) agrees that what President Obama wants to do is minor.
“This is it, really?” N.R.A’s Jennifer Baker, asked The New York Times in reference to the president’s proposals. “This is what they’ve been hyping for how long now? This is the proposal they’ve spent seven years putting together? They’re not really doing anything.”
Watch President Obama announce the new executive actions in this report from The Wall Street Journal: