US is flooded with guns
Gun violence is violence committed with the use of firearms, for example pistols, shotguns, assault rifles or machine guns. It is a contemporary global human rights issue. Gun-related violence threatens our most fundamental human right, the right to life. Gun violence is a daily tragedy affecting the lives of individuals around the world. More than 500 people die every day because of violence committed with firearms.
According to a new US government report, US firearms makers produced over 139 million guns for the commercial market over the two decades from 2000, including 11.3 million in 2020 alone. Another 71 million firearms were imported in the same period – compared to just 7.5 million exported – underscoring how the country is literally swimming in personal weapons that have stoked a surge in gun violence, murders and suicides.
The report shows that while Americans have made favorites of semi-automatic assault rifles seen in many mass shootings, they have bought en masse the increasingly cheap, easy-to-use and accurate semi-automatic 9 mm pistols like those that most police now use. And, the report shows, authorities face a surge in unregistered "ghost guns" made at home with parts that can be bought online and produced with 3-D printer, and pistols and short-barrelled rifles that are as powerful and lethal as the semi-automatic assault rifles used in mass shootings.
The report came out after a shocking weekend showed how the vast surplus of guns has made its mark on US society. In Buffalo, New York an 18-year-old white man driven by racist hate used an assault rifle to murder 10 African Americans; in Laguna Woods, California a man shot five people in a church frequented by Taiwanese with a 9 mm pistol; and in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, more than 20 people were wounded in shootings in one evening in the downtown entertainment district.
Firearms deaths are a fixture in American life. There were 1.5 million of them between 1968 and 2017 - that's higher than the number of soldiers killed in every US conflict since the American War for Independence in 1775. In 2020 alone, more than 45,000 Americans died at the end of a barrel of a gun, whether by homicide or suicide, more than any other year on record. The figure represents a 25% increase from five years prior, and a 43% increase from 2010.
Nearly 53 people are killed each day by a firearm in the US, according to the data. However, despite widespread and vocal public outrage - often in the wake of gun violence - American support for stricter gun laws in 2020 fell to the lowest level since 2014, according to polling by Gallup. Only 52% of Americans surveyed said they wanted stricter gun laws, while 35% said they should remain the same. 11% surveyed said laws should be "made less strict".