What Will It Take? Terrorism, Mass Murder, Gang Violence, and Suicides: The American Way, Or Do We Strive for a Better Way?

The assertion that access to firearms makes us safe, rather than increases the likelihood that oneself or a family member will die, is contradicted by a large body of evidence. Gunshots kill more than 30,000 Americans each year. Homicide accounts for approximately one-third of these deaths, with the remainder involving suicides and accidental gun discharges. In fact, firearms put us at greater risk of death than participating in war; in four months, as many Americans were shot dead in the United States as have died fighting in Iraq for an entire decade. Given these grim statistics, it would be reasonable to expect swift legislative action. Living in a nation plagued by the highest gun death rate in the world should trigger public and political outrage. Yet, the country is in a state of political impasse. Despite public demand for reform, federal legislators have been unable to enact laws that would protect, at least in part, the public from gun violence. Partly to blame for this political standoff may be the public’s misperception that there are rigorous gun control laws at the federal and state levels, all of which in actuality are riddled with loopholes. State and federal legislators could significantly tighten gun control laws without infringing on the Second Amendment right to bear arms but repeatedly fail to do so. When proposed reforms are viewed cumulatively, it is clear that they would almost certainly prevent many firearm injuries and deaths, even if no reform can eliminate gun violence altogether.