The rise of gun violence in the past few years has increased drastically, according to the Gun Violence Archive (GVA). As our focus starts to shift away from the COVID-19 pandemic, we can look towards another major issue in the United States, including the acceleration of violence using firearms. In the last decade alone, 180 school shootings have occured, with over 356 casualties, says CNN. Even Harvard-Westlake was affected by a school shooting scare, showing that no one is exempt, and the pervasiveness of this issue is growing more out of hand every year.
There were 15,208 gun-related homicides in 2019 alone according to GVA. Most homicides in the US involved a gun as the method of murder. In 73% of all homicides the perpetrator was using a firearm, according to the BBC.
The rate of gun-related homicides in the US is significantly higher than rates in other countries. England’s rate is 4%, Australia’s is 22%, and Canada’s is 39%. This influx of gun related crime in the US largely comes from the lack of gun control and a rapid increase in untreated mental illnesses.
Another recent occurrence is the sudden rise in mass shootings. Over the past decade, mass shootings have become a regular occurrence in public places like concerts, campuses, stores and more. It’s become an epidemic of sorts, the regularity and frequency with which Americans hear about and experience mass shootings is alarming.
A mass shooting is defined as any gun related event in which four or more people are injured or killed, excluding the shooter. In 2021 alone, there have been 239 mass shootings, according to GVA.
In 2020, the rates of mass shootings were relatively low, which is believed to be a result of the COVID-19 pandemic closing down areas where mass shootings generally occur. Directly after cities and counties began partially opening up again, mass shootings began to increase.
While much of this does have to do with the reopening of heavily populated areas, there is also the idea that since the beginning of the pandemic, mental health has swiftly decreased due to social isolation, leading to more instability, paired with access to guns.
60%of mass shooters have a history of mental illnesses, and the number may have increased following the worst of the pandemic, according to the Los Angeles Times. Although mental illness seems like a plausible explanation, it is not confirmed, as it’s difficult to compare the mental health of the shooters over the course of quarantine.
Another reason for high rates of gun violence is the lack of gun control in the US. In a study by BBC, it was revealed that there are 120.5 guns owned per every 100 American civilians, excluding active military members and police officers. This means America has the highest rate of gun ownership of all developed countries, which plays a major role in the pervasive gun violence.
Similarly, only nine out of all 50 states ban the use of assault weapons, according to BBC. Assault weapons have been used in 47 different mass shootings, excluding semi-automatic rifles, but those mass shootings have been some of the most deadly shootings in history, including the Vegas Strip, Orlando nightclub, Sandy Hook and Texas First Church massacres.
Gun violence in the United States is a serious problem, and one that’s not getting better as time goes on. Homicide and suicides are becoming easier with the use of firearms, and mass shootings are steadily increasing with the help of assault weapons. The issues regarding gun control are quickly spiraling, and it’s up to American citizens and leaders to keep them in check and keep our country from descending into one of chaotic violence and terror.