US Gun Violence: Due to Lax Gun Laws or Social Ills?

There are 270 million firearms in civilian hands in America. (Image: AK Rockefeller/Flickr)
There are 270 million firearms in civilian hands in America. (Image: AK Rockefeller/Flickr)

Globally, there are 650 million guns in civilian hands and of that number, 270 million of them are in the U.S. This makes Americans the most armed population in the world by far.

Based on figures from the Small Arms Survey 2015, used in the below video from AJ+, America ranked fifth for homicides due to firearms, with 9,146 people killed.

The worst country for gun related deaths is Brazil, with 34,678 fatalities.

See the video for more statistics and comparisons of global civilian gun ownership around the world:

As mentioned in the video, Switzerland has a high rate of gun ownership, but unlike the U.S., it doesn’t have a violence issue. That in itself is telling.

The Swiss are known to be an orderly and harmonious bunch, plus their country is pretty much picture post card perfect.

“Social conditions are fundamental in deterring crime,” Peter Squires, a professor of criminology and public policy at the University of Brighton in the U.K., told TIME. Squires has studied gun violence in different countries, and he found that a “culture of support” rather than emphasis on individualism can prevent mass killings.

“If people have a responsible, disciplined, and organized introduction into an activity like shooting, there will be less risk of gun violence,” he said.

In modern times, Switzerland has had only one mass shooting, which occurred in 2001 when a resentful citizen opened fire with his military rifle inside a provincial parliament. Fourteen people were killed and 14 were injured.

High powered assault weapons for sale (Image: Michael Saechang/Flickr).

High-powered assault weapons for sale. (Image: Michael Saechang/Flickr)

The vast, vast majority of U.S. gun owners are responsible in using their weapons, and the right to keep and bear arms is protected under the constitution. I’m Australian, and I respect that. I grew up with firearms, and I was taught how to use them responsibly.

However, during the 1990s, Australia had several mass shootings, with the worst one claiming 35 lives. Following that, strict gun controls were implemented—federal legislation even made it a crime to use firearms in self-defense—and the country hasn’t had any comparable mass shootings since. Troubled individuals just don’t have access to weapons like they used to.

Now in the U.S., the issue of gun controls has been brought up following the shooting deaths of Alison Parker and Adam Ward of WDBJ-TV at the hands of a disgruntled ex-colleague during a live to air broadcast.

For a video on that tragedy see below:

Debates, often extremely polarizing, are resurfacing on whether stronger gun controls can prevent this type of tragedy occurring. But gun control in the U.S. is an intractable debate.

“I have sympathies with both sides. We should not lightly give up constitutional rights to a government that hasn’t always been a model of competence or good intent,” wrote Chris Ferguson, an associate professor of psychology at Stetson University, for the New York Daily News.

“At the same time, few of us want weapons in the hands of those in chronic distress or with histories of violence,” he added. “The emotionality of this debate on both sides, and willingness to demonize those with whom we disagree, has made it all but impossible to have a reasoned discussion.”

The vast majority of firearm owners in the U.S. are responsible citizens. (Image: Rod Waddington/Flickr)

The vast majority of firearm owners in the U.S. are responsible citizens. (Image: Rod Waddington/Flickr)

Being Australian, I can’t really add anything further, so I’m leaving you with what Michael Hutton from Texas posted in the Americans United Against Tyranny Facebook group.

Regarding the shooting in Virginia of two news reporters

“The shooter is apparently someone that was a former employee and it seems he is someone with trouble in his past. People getting angry and going and killing others they used to work with is not only a sign of their own emotional and psychological illness but a reflection of the society that fosters them. Let me be clear, I am not blaming society for the deaths or for the shooter’s mental illness. This is not an excuse, it’s an explanation. Our society, our culture, has devolved into an amoral one that holds no real standard of virtue. The dissolution of the family is largely responsible for the brokenness of individuals. A person’s ability to feel validated and healthy is directly proportional and contingent on the love and security they experience in their family. You may not hold to any faith or religious ideology. But I have a question for all Americans. By what standard do we establish the importance of healthy nuclear families and loving and nurturing environments for children?

“The leftists want to impose government standards, as if those would work. Are families a thing to regulate? If you love freedom then your answer is an unequivocal ‘no!’. But then by what standard can liberty and justice be maintained? What cultural impetus can exist to sustain the required healthy moral and spiritually rich environment needed for moral and virtuous individuals to thrive and grow?

“America is sick. Death and chaos and injustice and confusion and oppression and tyranny and apathy and hatred are evident in all of our institutions and in our daily news cycle. You want peace? You want justice? You want liberty? Then what are we going to see those things established on in modern America? Can they be established on mental illness and depravity? How about moral ambiguity? How about social experiments with the family… shall we throw some of those in there too? Why is America sick? Who are we?”

Click here to read more World stories, LIKE us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Want a Job as a Filipino Journalist? You’d Better Get Yourself a Gun
This Is What It’s Like to Teach English in North Korea