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We Can Change Our Wicked Problems!

Gun Violence

On average, there’s one mass shooting a day in the U.S., where somebody, almost always a citizen, shoots at least 4 people.[1]  At least once a month now, it’s at a school, and children are murdered. [2]   In many U.S. cities, there is an average of a gun murder a day.  Gun violence is epidemic in the U.S.  Since John Lennon was shot, December 8, 1980, more U.S. people have been killed by guns in the U.S. than U.S. people have been killed in all U.S. wars, combined, ever, anywhere in the world.[3] 

In an average year in the U.S., 115,000 people are shot - accidentally, in murders, assaults, suicide attempts or by police.  Of 34,000 who die, 12,000 are murders, 21,000 are suicides, 550 are accidents, 500 are killed by police, and 300 die with unknown intention.  Of 81,000 who survive, 60,000 are attacks, 4,000 are failed suicides, 16,000 are shot unintentionally, and 950 people are shot by police.[4]  In 2017, 39,773 people were killed by guns, the increase mostly due to increasing epidemic suicides.[5]  That’s 3,314 a month, 110 a day, so many that most aren’t even newsworthy any more.

In an average year in the U.S., 17,000 children or teens are shot in murders, assaults, suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, or by cops.  3,000 die - 1,600 murdered, 900 suicides, 100 killed unintentionally, 30 killed by police and 30 with unknown intention.  14,000 survive - 11,000 of them injured in attacks, 200 shot in suicide attempts, 2,700 shot unintentionally, and 65 shot by cops.  1 in 3 U.S. homes with kids have guns.  1.7 million children live in homes with unlocked, loaded guns.[6]  In 2017 in the U.S., more kids were shot dead than on-duty police officers plus active duty military,[7] while the U.S. had 7 wars going, military presence or activity in at least 140 countries, and arrested and incarcerated the highest numbers and percentages of people of any nation.[8] 

In 5 years and 3 months, from the December 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school mass shooting, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 first-graders and 6 adults with an AR-15 assault rifle, through March 2018, more than 7,000 kids died by gunfire in the U.S., more than the 6,950 U.S. soldiers killed in combat since the War on Terror began, 9/11/01.[9]  U.S. Government doesn’t track school shootings,[10]  but the U.S. had 93 school shootings in 2018, 2.6 per week, of 36 weeks kids are in school in the U.S.[11] 

Starting with 1999’s Columbine, Colorado mass school shooting, at least 187,000 students attending at least 193 U.S. primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting at school during school hours.  That’s more children exposed to gunfire in places they go to school than the population of Eugene, Ore. or Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  Many are never the same.  Traumatized, it changes and harms them forever. 

The epidemic of U.S. gun violence, on average, leaves about one child bleeding or dead every hour.  Thousands of U.S. schools conduct active-shooter drills, in which children, as young as four years old, hide from pretend murderers in dark closets and bathrooms.  Death by gun is now the 3rd-leading cause of children’s deaths in the U.S., while we glorify gun violence in our entertainments.[12]

There are 12,000 gun homicides a year in the U.S., 1,000 a month.[13]  Death by gun in the U.S. is as common as death by car crash.  In France it’s as common as death by hypothermia, in England death by farm machinery, in Norway by accidental strangulation, and in Japan by getting struck by lightning.[14] 

At least 6,875 people in the U.S. were fatally shot by romantic partners from 2006 to 2014, 80% women.  554 U.S. women are fatally shot by a current or former romantic partner each year, one every 16 hours.  Intimate partners also use guns to threaten and intimidate.  An estimated 4.5 million U.S. women have been bullied or threatened by an intimate partner with a gun, a behavior called “coercive control.”[15]

Some blame gun violence on foreign terrorists.  U.S. people are twice as likely get killed by a U.S. toddler with a gun than by foreign terrorists,[16] 420 times more likely to be killed by a U.S. person with a gun or automobile than by a foreign terrorist anywhere.[17]  White U.S. people are our biggest terror threat.[18]

The gun lobby is the U.S. is powerful and relentless, like greater military industrial complex lobbies.  Keep profits high by keeping the bullets flying!  Gun sellers don’t bear any costs for the lives and productivity their wares destroy.  They have no incentive to stop gun violence.  Quite the opposite.  More gun violence is good for business.  63% of U.S. gun owners say one of the primary reasons they own a firearm is for protection against other people.[19]  We need guns, because we have guns?

In 2016, the gun industry was responsible for some $51 billion (4% of FADS) in direct and indirect economic activity across the U.S., employing 300,000 people.[20]  We spent $17 billion (1.5% of FADS) just on ammunition while Obama was president.[21]  In 2016, U.S. manufacturers produced 4,720,075 pistols, 4,239,335 rifles, 856,291 revolvers, 848,617 shotguns and 833,123 miscellaneous firearms, totaling 11,497,441 guns, and we imported 3,287,842 handguns, 632,105 rifles and 572,309 shotguns, totaling 4,492,256 guns.[22]  That’s 16 million guns sold, not counting those sold between individuals.  There are 50,000 more gun shops than McDonald's restaurants in the U.S.[23]

Millions of guns are sold in the U.S. every year, “no questions asked”.  41% of U.S. people think federal law requires criminal background checks on all gun sales, including between private parties.  The 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act only requires background checks for sales by licensed dealers.[24]  40% of guns are acquired in the U.S. without a Brady background check.[25] 

The power of the firearm business lobby, especially as exercised by the National Rifle Association (NRA), prevents meaningful change in U.S. gun laws and associated harms.  Currently, arms and their sales are viewed as protected under the Constitution’s 2nd Amendment, though people with guns have little real power against their military, with 10 times the budget of the next 10 largest militaries in the world.[26]  Many U.S. citizens are amped up about protecting those gun rights.  At an NRA rally, the U.S. recently pulled out of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, to prevent illicit arms transfers that fuel destructive conflicts, making it harder to conduct weapon sales in violation of arms embargoes, signed by 130 countries.[27]

There are 347 million guns in the U.S., one for every man, woman and child.[x28]  600,000 guns a year are stolen in the U.S., one per minute.[29]  U.S. people own nearly half (49%) of the 650 million civilian-owned guns in the world, far more guns per capita than any other nation.  With less than 5% of the world population, the U.S. has 31% of global mass shooters.[30]  Living in a home with a gun greatly increases odds of premature death.[31]  We don’t even ban military assault rifles for the mentally ill.[32] [33]

Some people in other countries are afraid to come to the U.S.  Is that perception of personal risk fair?  The U.S. is in the top 10 most dangerous countries for women.[34]  We position and sell ourselves in the global community as a model of morality, ethics, good governance, peace, democracy and human rights.  What does it do to its standing in the global community to host such shocking gun violence?  U.S. gun violence is a huge problem, a symptom of social brokenness that creates great fear, loss and suffering.

It’s common sense that this gun violence epidemic has to stop, right?  Change!  Try to change gun laws!  If you have a gun, secure it safely and learn how to use it safely!  If you have and don’t really need a gun, destroy it!  If you don’t have a gun and don’t really need one, don’t get one!  Try to reduce and help sufferers of despair, unfairness and wrongs that lead to the bad feelings that incite violent reactions! 

 

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Endnotes

 

[1] “There's a Mass Shooting Almost Every Day in the U.S.”, John Haltiwanger, October 2, 2017, http://www.newsweek.com/mass-shooting-almost-every-day-us-675334

[2] “Scarred by school shootings:  More than 187,000 students have been exposed to gun violence at school since Columbine, The Washington Post found.  Many are never the same.”, John Woodrow Cox and Steven Rich, Updated March 25, 2018, The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/local/us-school-shootings-history/?utm_term=.699bf2c2efd6

[3] “1.15 Million Americans Have Been Killed by Guns Since John Lennon's Death”, Tessa Stuart, December 8, 2015, Rolling Stone, http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/1-15-million-americans-have-been-killed-by-guns-since-john-lennons-death-20151208

[4] “Key Gun Violence Statistics”, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, https://www.bradycampaign.org/key-gun-violence-statistics

[5] “Gun deaths in US rise to highest level in 20 years, data shows: Forty thousand people were killed in shootings last year amid a growing number of suicides involving firearms”, CDC reveals”, Ed Pilkington, The Guardian, December 13, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/dec/13/us-gun-deaths-levels-cdc-2017

[6] “Key Gun Violence Statistics”, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, https://www.bradycampaign.org/key-gun-violence-statistics

[7] “More Children Were Shot Dead in 2017 Than On-Duty Police Officers and Active Duty Military, Study Says”, Kashmira Gander, Newsweek, March 21, 2019, https://www.newsweek.com/kids-and-guns-alarming-rise-firearm-deaths-among-american-children-1370866?utm_source=Facebook&utm_campaign=NewsweekFacebookSF&utm_medium=Social

[8] See chapters on Empire and Its Agents and Prisons and Incarceration

[9] “MORE CHILDREN HAVE BEEN KILLED BY GUNS SINCE SANDY HOOK THAN U.S. SOLDIERS IN COMBAT SINCE 9/11”, Ryan Sit, March 16, 2018, Newsweek, https://www.newsweek.com/gun-violence-children-killed-sandy-hook-military-soldiers-war-terror-911-848602

[10] “Scarred by school shootings:  More than 187,000 students have been exposed to gun violence at school since Columbine, The Washington Post found.  Many are never the same.”, John Woodrow Cox and Steven Rich, Updated March 25, 2018, The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/local/us-school-shootings-history/?utm_term=.699bf2c2efd6

[11] “The Sandy Hook Massacre Was 6 Years Ago Today. This Year Had More School Shootings Than Ever.”,

Ryan Bort, Rolling Stone, December 14, 2018, https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/american-gun-violence-statistics-768853/

[12] “Hollywood Wants Gun Control — For Everyone But Them”, Kelsey Miller, Refinery29, January 16, 2018, https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2018/01/185256/gun-control-hollywood-violence-in-film-problem

[13] “Key Gun Violence Statistics”, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, https://www.bradycampaign.org/key-gun-violence-statistics

[14] “Comparing Gun Deaths by Country:  The U.S. is in a Different World”, Kevin Quealy, Margot Sanger-Katz, June 13, 2016, The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/14/upshot/compare-these-gun-death-rates-the-us-is-in-a-different-world.html

[15] “Nonfatal Gun Use in Intimate Partner Violence:  A Systematic Review of the Literature”, Susan B. Sorenson, Rebecca A. Schut, First Published September 14, 2016, http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1524838016668589

[16] “Trump fears terrorists, but more Americans are shot dead by toddlers”, Gary Younge, The Guardian, February 8, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/08/trump-muslim-terrorists-gun-violence-america-deaths

[17] 39,773 U.S. firearm deaths / 95 deaths by foreign terrorists in 2017, “Terrorism”, Max Roser, Mohamed Nagdy and Hannah Ritchie, Our World in Data, January 2018, https://ourworldindata.org/terrorism

[18] “White Americans are the biggest terror threat in the United States”, GlobalPost, PRI, Updated:  July 26, 2018, https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-06-24/white-americans-are-biggest-terror-threat-united-states

[19] “Handguns Are the New Home Security”, Julie Turkewitz, Troy Griggs, October 14, 2016, The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/12/us/handguns-gun-ownership-survey.html

[20] “Gun industry contributes $51.3B to US economy, research shows”, Andrew Lisa, MSN, April 24, 2018, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/other/gun-industry-contributes-dollar513b-to-us-economy-research-shows/ar-AAvuCzz

[21] “Americans spent an estimated $17 billion on ammunition while Obama was president”, Philip Bump, The Washington Post, March 22, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/03/22/americans-spent-an-estimated-17-billion-dollars-on-ammunition-while-obama-was-president/?utm_term=.81ca27ab1c15

[22] “Firearms Commerce in the United States:  Annual Statistical Update”, 2018, United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, https://www.atf.gov/resource-center/docs/undefined/firearmscommercestatisticalupdate20185087-24-18pdf/download

[23] “There are 50,000 more gun shops than McDonald's in the US”, Leanna Garfield, Business Insider, October 6, 2017, https://www.businessinsider.com/gun-dealers-stores-mcdonalds-las-vegas-shooting-2017-10

[24] “41% of Americans Think the United States Already Has Universal Gun Background Checks, Survey Shows:  And 100 percent of them are wrong”, Kate Masters, The Trace, February 4, 2016, https://www.thetrace.org/2016/02/41-percent-americans-wrong-background-checks-guns/

[25] “Clinton’s claim that 40 percent of guns are sold at gun shows and over the Internet”, Glenn Kessler, October 16, 2015, The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/10/16/clintons-claim-that-40-percent-of-guns-are-sold-at-gun-shows-and-over-the-internet/?utm_term=.14bf6d8e18ad

[26] See the chapter on Empire and Its Agents

[27] “During NRA speech, Trump drops out of another global arms treaty:  Trump rejects U.N. arms trade treaty in front of NRA audience”, Missy Ryan and John Hudson, The Washington Post, April 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-administration-expected-to-distance-itself-from-global-arms-treaty/2019/04/26/82e19736-f0ee-4cfe-b086-a6b5d89c1ec8_story.html?utm_term=.730219a5c664

[28] “How Many Guns Are There in America?”, Dean Weingarten, July 1, 2015, The Truth About Guns, http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2015/07/dean-weingarten/how-many-guns-are-there-in-america/

[29] “Up to 600,000 guns are stolen every year in the US – that's one every minute”, Brian Freskos, September 21, 2016, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/21/gun-theft-us-firearm-survey

[30] “How US gun culture compares with the world in five charts”, Kara Fox, CNN, Updated March 9, 2018, https://edition.cnn.com/2017/10/03/americas/us-gun-statistics/index.html

[31] “Living in a house with a gun increases your odds of death:  It’s an unnecessary risk”, Dylan Matthews, Vox,  November 14, 2018, https://www.vox.com/2015/10/1/18000520/gun-risk-death

[32] “Should the U.S. Ban Military-Style Semiautomatic Weapons?”, Jeremy Engle, The New York Times, March 22, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/22/learning/us-bans-semiautomatic-weapons.html

[33] “OnPolitics Today: Remember when Trump ended a ban on gun sales to the mentally ill?”, Josh Hafner, USA Today, February 16, 2018, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2018/02/15/onpolitics-today-remember-when-trump-ended-ban-gun-sales-mentally-ill/343696002/

[34] “Experts Ranked the Most Dangerous Countries for Women. The U.S. Made the Top 10”, Natasha Bach, Fortune, June 27, 2018, http://fortune.com/2018/06/27/thomson-reuters-us-top-ten-most-dangerous-countries-for-women/

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