The issues regarding causes of gun violence have been a long standing debate for legislators and civil society groups in the United States. Currently, America is one of the countries with the greatest rate of gun violence. It ranks first among its industrial peers in terms of crimes committed with the use of guns. There have been 220 violent events in American schools resulting in 253 deaths from 1994 – 1999. Among these cases, 74. 5% involved the use of firearms with handguns causing almost 60% of death toll. (Journal of American Medical Association 152).
These statistics have manifested in some of the most gruesome crimes in the United States; the Columbine high school shootings in 1999 where students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 12 of their classmates and teacher and injured 24 other people before committing suicide themselves (CNN Online), the Virginia Tech Massacre left thirty-three dead including the killer who was a South Korean student named Cho. These horrific manifestations prove one thing: That America is a violent nation plagued by the scourge of gun violence.
In 2003, Americans for Gun Safety reported that 20 of the nation’s 22 national gun laws are not enforced. According to U. S. Department of Justice, only 2% of federal gun crimes were actually prosecuted. Eighty-five percent of cases prosecuted relate to street criminals in possession of firearms. Laws that are intended to punish illegal gun trafficking, firearm theft, corrupt gun dealers, lying on a criminal background check form, obliterating firearm serial numbers, selling guns to minors and possessing a gun in a school zone are often ignored in litigations (Journal of American Medical Association 167).
According to a report by the Joshephson Institute of Ethics, 60% of high school and 31% of middle school boys said they could get a gun if they wanted to (2000 Report Card: Report #1 11). At the moment, 47 million Americans own 198 million firearms, 72 million of which are handguns. Although there are enough guns to provide every U. S. adult with one, only 25 percent of adults actually own firearms; 74 percent of gun owners possess two or more.
This brings to mind the question of whether or not America’s lax policies in gun control are significant contributing factors to murder from gun violence. Is there truly an underlying relationship between gun sales and gun violence? This paper would take into consideration pertinent data gathered from the United States vis-a-vis parallel data gathered from its industrial peers namely Great Britain, Germany, France, England, and Canada from year 2000 to 2005 determine whether or not a state with lax gun policies actually turn out to be a state with massive gun violence.
The year 2000 saw about 25% of Americans owning guns. At the same time, England had 33% of its people owning guns while France had 32%. (Morrie 21). In fact, if we examine the table below which summarizes gun ownership of the respective populations of several industrialized countries, you would observe two things. First, the numbers are very near one another, indicating that there might not be a significant difference among them. Second, even if there is a significant difference, the United States’ percentage falls below several other countries.