Gun violence is one of the acutest social problems in the U.S.
According to the latest data by Gun Violence Archive (GVA), an American nonprofit group with an accompanying website and social media delivery platforms, 72 mass shootings have taken place in the U.S. so far this year.
Frequent shootings have seriously violated people’s right to life, leaving an indelible stain on the country’s human rights record.
The U.S. is the country with the most civilian-held firearms. In 2017, about 393.3 million guns were privately owned in the U.S., which means 120.5 firearms for every 100 people. The country ranks first in the world in terms of both individual gun ownership and the number of guns per capita.
A study reveals that the U.S. is in the midst of a massive gun-buying boom that shows no signs of abating. From 2000 to 2020, the annual production of firearms in the country almost tripled, with a dramatic increase in the past three years in particular.
According to the U.S. National Shooting Sports Foundation, the U.S. conducted 21 million background checks for gun purchases in 2020, surpassing the previous record in 2016 by 5.3 million.
Social problems such as the widening wealth gap, serious racial discrimination, as well as frequent looting and riots have aggravated social insecurity, thus leading to more purchases of guns for self-defense.
Individual ownership of a large number of guns has triggered incessant violence, putting social security in the U.S. at greater risk.
GVA statistics indicate that gun violence has already caused 44,309 deaths in the U.S. in 2022. Over the recent years, the number of mass shootings, or gun violence incidents in which four or more people are injured or killed, has been rising rapidly.
According to GVA, both mass shootings and deaths in the U.S. have surged about fourfold since 2013. More than 600 mass shootings occurred in the country each year since 2020, and the number even reached 692 in 2021.
Frequent shootings have left American people living in perpetual fear. A survey by the American Psychological Association shows that one-third of American adults feel they cannot go anywhere without worrying about being a victim of a mass shooting, and nearly a quarter of them admit that they have changed their behavior due to fear of mass shootings.
An article published in an American media outlet pointed out that “there are no safe spaces from guns” in the country. “Gun violence is America’s way of life — and death,” another article said.
One gunshot after another has shattered the American Dream that all men are endowed with the unalienable rights to life and liberty, but the U.S. government is helpless to do anything about it.
The second amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides for the right of individuals to keep and bear arms. In recent years, as gun-related issues have become increasingly prominent, pro-gun and pro-control advocates have engaged in heated debates on the interpretation of the second amendment. Such debates have resulted in stalled efforts on gun control legislation.
U.S. state and local governments have made various attempts to introduce legislation on gun control, but such efforts all ended up either long in words but short on action, or flip-flopped.
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling striking down a New York State law that restricts carrying a concealed firearm in public. This directly undermined the ability of state and local governments to monitor firearms in New York, California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey, among others.
It is undoubtedly true that, absent more effective gun laws at the national level, there is little prospect of preventing more mass gun fatalities, said an article in The New Yorker.
Gun violence lays bare the decline of U.S. governance capacity. Given a political system where different sides hold each other back, an increasingly polarized political ecosystem, pervasive interest groups and ineradicable racial discrimination, gun control in the U.S. is in stalemate, and a total ban on guns is effectively a mission impossible.
How the U.S. political system is designed and operates constitutes the root cause of ineffective gun control. Gun control intensity varies across different states, making it increasingly difficult to regulate guns and perform interstate enforcement.
Positions of Democrats and Republicans on gun control are becoming increasingly polarized. As a result, it is even more difficult for either party to compromise.
Group politics and electoral politics in the U.S. have provided legalized channels for gun groups to conduct money politics and influence the stance of Congress members on guns.
The above issues have led to the result that the U.S. government has done little or nothing on gun control for a long time, and to a growing awareness among the public that “gun violence is America’s never-ending plague.”
The right to life is the biggest human right. Some U.S. politicians have long treated the American people’s right to life with indifference, while pointing fingers at the human rights conditions of other countries. This only exposes their hypocrisy and hegemonic thinking.
The most important thing that they are duty-bound to do is to face up to and address their own problems, and let the American people enjoy true freedom from the fear of gun violence.
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