By Julius Adeoye
The spate of shooting attacks in communities has riveted attention on America’s staggering number of public mass killings, but the rising number of gun deaths in the United States extends beyond such high-profile episodes, emerging nearly every day inside homes, outside bars and on the streets of many cities.
In the United States, gun control is a highly controversial topic that engenders debate surrounding public safety, state and federal government oversight, and individual rights.
There have been over 300 mass shootings so far in 2022, with the surge in gun violence as firearm purchases rose to record levels in 2020 and 2021, with more than 43 million guns estimated to have been purchased during that period, according to federal data on gun background checks, at the same time, the rate of gun deaths in those years hit the highest level since 1995, with more than 45,000 fatalities each year.
Guns are used in most suicides and are almost entirely responsible for an overall rise in homicides across the country from 2018 to 2021, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are increase in gun sales and deaths, this surge must have been triggered by the pandemic and notable events.
On America’s Independence Day, seven people were killed and dozens wounded at a parade in Highland Park, and numerous other fatal shootings played out across the country.
In Chicago, 10 people were killed and more than 60 wounded in a string of shootings, one person was killed and four were wounded in a shooting outside a Sacramento nightclub.
Two people were shot to death at a home in Haltom City, Texas, and a neighbour and three police officers were injured, a man was fatally shot in Clinton, N.C, hours later, six people, including two children, were injured in a separate shooting there, elementary schools were not left out, 19 schoolchildren and two teachers were killed in Texas, according to FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) sources.
There is not one clear answer as to what is driving the rise in bloodshed, but possible factors include the stress of the coronavirus pandemic, fraying ties between the police and the public, mounting anger, worsening mental strain and the sheer number of guns in America.
The ample access to guns plays a significant role, Americans are arming themselves in the face of deepening fears and divisions, frightening public incidents involving gunfire or violence, or simply because they know others may also have guns.
With an estimated 400 million guns in the country, a figure that eclipses the U.S. population, everyone thinks they need a gun because everyone else around them has a gun. As it is in America today, the law made it easier for underage to buy a gun at the gun store, but difficult for the underage to buy alcoholic at the pub.
Americans are not fighting, they are simply killing themselves, the agonizing frequency of nonfatal shootings and firearm deaths has now become a uniquely American phenomenon.
Many Americans support the right to bear arms but also believe that the government has the right to regulate firearms in the interest of public safety.
Those in support of gun control seek tighter restrictions on the sale and circulation of firearms to decrease the high incidence of gun-related violence and deaths in the United States, while opponents argue they have a constitutional right to own and bear firearms.
Gun control refers to legislation and regulations that place controls on the ownership of firearms, restrict certain types of firearms, or determine where they may be carried.
Though there are differences along party lines, some Americans believe gun control laws should be more strict, while few Americans believe they should be less strict.
Better gun safety regulations would regulate gun ownership, such as requiring waiting periods, background checks, gun permits, gun safety training, and restrictions on the possession of assault weapons.
After several victims and families of victims of gun violence and others sued gun manufacturers and dealers whose weapons were used to commit a crime, the American Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) and the Child Safety Lock Act of 2005.
The first act limited the liability of gun manufacturers and dealers when their firearms were used in crimes, while the second act required anyone licensed to transfer or sell firearms to provide gun storage or safety devices, the repeal of the act was supported by President Joe Biden during his 2020 Presidential campaign.
In 2021, with Congressional action on gun control unlikely, President Joe Biden also issued a series of executive orders. Biden’s orders focused on regulating specific types of firearms and gun modifications; funding research on firearms trafficking in the United States; and encouraging states to pass “red flag” laws. Red flag laws allow for the temporary removal of firearms from a person identified as a potential danger by law enforcement or family members, who can petition for a court order.
•Adeoye, a security expert, is resident in Lagos.