In 2019 alone, gun violence has taken the lives of 34,604 fathers, mothers, sons, daughters and friends, all within the great U.S. of A. Sadly, 100 Americans–100 of our own–are killed by firearms every single day. How many more slaughters will we witness before we stop sitting on our hands and take real steps towards getting to the core of the issue?
Our legislators have proven unwilling to step onto the side of saving lives, and we are the generation that is both being impacted the most and are left holding the ball to try to solve the problem. Our legislators are failing us.
On average, there are 36,383 gun deaths per year and 100,120 gun injuries in America. In fact, America ranks higher than almost any other wealthy nation in gun deaths and even some less developed nations. In the U.S., an average of 4.43 people per 100,000 suffered a violent gun death in 2017, while other wealthy countries such as Japan, Iceland and Romania boast mere rates of 0.04, 0.07 and 0.08, respectively. Why is it that America is one of the most developed countries in the world, yet our gun violence rate is 10 times that of most other developed nations? Our country lacks effective legislation to prevent these tragedies and nobody seems willing to put these in place, either.
The first aspect of our high rate of gun-inflicted deaths is suicide, which accounts for two-thirds of American gun deaths. In fact, the U.S. gun-suicide rate is 10 times that of other high-income countries. Gun access even triples the chance of committing suicide. Now, realistically, almost all gun suicide deaths are carried out with weapons that could be legally obtained, even with proper legislation.
However, this falls under a long, underlying cause of gun violence in America: our broken mental health system. While some may argue that the mental health system is not broken because it has never been whole, there is still the basic principle that our mental healthcare system is deeply flawed. In its current state, we have a system that focuses primarily on profit instead of helping people with serious mental conditions. Licensed “professionals” are quick to write out prescriptions or lock people away in asylums, but there is rarely a focus on rehabilitation. While increased free and affordable access to quality mental health care won’t completely get rid of the problem, it’s still a tremendous step in the right direction. Therefore, I personally believe if we take the shambles of this system and make it function as it should, we could significantly reduce our nation’s number of suicides and gun-related deaths.
The other third of gun violence in America is something we see all too much: homicide. As of now, the U.S. gun homicide rate is 25 times more than other high-income countries. In fact, gun accessibility doubles the risk of homicides. The main problem with gun violence in America is the large impact it has on children and teenagers. In the U.S., firearms are the second leading cause of death for children and teens, falling short behind motor vehicles. In 2016, about 3,143 children and teens below the age of 19 died from firearm-related deaths.