With more than 450 million guns possessed by Americans with an additional unknown number of assault rifles, the country is gradually becoming a land of terror – where incidents of shooting at educational institutions in particular have become almost a regular issue. The US ratio of 120.5 firearms per 100 residents, up from 88 per 100 in 2011, far surpasses that of other countries around the world.
Some of the analysts reject the ‘450 million’ figure stating it is hard to estimate the number of privately owned guns in America since there is no countrywide database where people register whether they own guns, and there is a thriving black market for them in the absence of strong federal gun trafficking laws. In their opinion, the actual number of guns possessed by private individuals in the United States would be much higher.
One estimate from the Small Arms Survey, a Swiss-based research project, found that there were approximately 390 million guns in circulation in the US in 2018, or about 120.5 firearms per 100 residents. That number has likely climbed in the years since, given that one in five households purchased a gun during the pandemic. But even without accounting for that increase, US gun ownership is still well above any other country: Yemen, which has the world’s second-highest level of gun ownership, has only 52.8 guns per 100 residents; in Iceland, it’s 31.7.
According to a 2016 Harvard University and Northeastern University study, American guns are concentrated in a tiny minority of households: just 3 percent own about half the nation’s guns. They’re called “super owners” who have an average of 17 guns each. Gallup, using a different methodology, found that 42 percent of American households overall owned guns in 2021.
A 2013 Boston University-led study found that for each percentage point increase in gun ownership at the household level, the state firearm homicide rate increased by 0.9 percent. And states with weaker gun laws have higher rates of gun-related homicides and suicides, according to a study conducted by gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.
There is still a pervasive idea – pushed by gun manufacturers and gun rights organizations like the National Rifle Association stating that further arming the United States is the answer to preventing gun violence – the ‘good guy with a gun’ theory. But a 2021 study from Hamline University and Metropolitan State University found that the rate of deaths in 133 mass school shootings between 1980 and 2019 was 2.83 times greater in cases where there was an armed guard present.
Biden’s reaction to Nashville school massacre
Following the recent shooting at a Nashville elementary school that left three students and three adult staff members dead, US President Joe Biden repeated his call for lawmakers to pass gun control measures stating “I can’t do anything except plead with Congress to act”. It was reported in the media that in the aftermath of the shooting, Biden had pressed Congress to reimpose a ban on assault weapons to counter gun violence.
Question here is – shall the US Congress reimpose the ban when almost every politician in the United States is getting financial perks from the gun manufacturers? It may be mentioned here that, despite years of financial woes and internal strife, the National Rifle Association (NRA) remains the most powerful gun lobby in the United States, with a substantial budget to influence members of Congress on gun policy. Over the last several election cycles, it, and other organizations, have consistently spent more on pro-gun rights messaging than their rivals in the gun control lobby.
Because of such massive spending of pro-gun lobby, a number of states in the US have gone as far as to largely eliminate restrictions on who can carry a gun. In June 2021, for example, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law a “permitless carry bill” that allows the state’s residents to carry handguns without a license or training.
Similarly, in April last year Georgia became the 25th in the nation to eliminate the need for a permit to conceal or openly carry a firearm. The law means any citizen of that state has the right to carry a firearm without a license or a permit.
The law was backed by the NRA, and leaders within the organization called the move “a monumental moment for the Second Amendment”.