Gun violence remains a top issue in US

Op-Ed by Emily Thompson

Gun violence continues to plague the United States and thousands of people die each year from gunshot wounds. Over 40,000 people have died from gun violence in the U.S. in 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive – which is an average of almost 118 deaths each day. Of those who died, 1,306 were teens and 276 were children.

Last year, there were also more than 630 mass shootings across the U.S., according to the Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people are injured or killed. For each of the last three years there have been more than 600 mass shootings – almost two a day on average.

The number of dead over the last several years remains approximately the same, though it has grown significantly since 2020.

According to a BBC report, “48,830 people died from gun-related injuries in the US during 2021, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”

That’s nearly an 8% increase from 2020, which was a record-breaking year for firearm deaths.

While mass shootings and homicides generally garner much media attention, more than half of the total in 2021 actually were suicides.

Firearm deaths among children also remains a top problem across the US. From 2012 to 2022, nearly 19,700 children ages 17 and younger died by firearm.

During this period, firearm death rates gradually rose until 2017, then slowed through 2019, before sharply rising with the onset of the pandemic and holding steady in 2022, based on data from Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). From 2019 to 2022, the firearm death rate among children and adolescents increased by 46% (from 2.4 to 3.5 per 100,000). This translates to seven children per day dying by firearm in 2022.

According to research by KFF, an organization which focuses on policy research, “Suicides by firearm have increased over the past decade among children and adolescents, peaking in 2021 with 827 deaths before declining to 686 deaths in 2022. Despite this decline, firearm suicides made up 27% of all child and adolescent firearm deaths.”

KFF also notes that “43% of total suicide deaths among children and adolescents in 2022 involved firearms. Accidental firearm deaths have shown little variation over the past decade and continue to account for roughly 5% of all child and adolescent firearm deaths.”

It is also interesting to note that the Small Arms Survey – a Swiss-based research project – estimated that there were 390 million guns in circulation in the US in 2018. 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.

These numbers have likely only risen since then.

Despite recent legislative efforts at the state and federal levels, gun violence remains alarmingly common across the country.

Gun safety groups have declared they plan to push for more change through state legislatures and executive actions this year. As voters turn their attention to a crucial election year, gun safety groups are also prepared to press candidates on their plans to curb gun violence.

As one example, noted by news site KNSI, the Minnesota House has passed HF 4300, the Safe Storage of Firearms Bill.

The bill requires firearms to be stored either unloaded and equipped with a locking device or placed in a locked gun safe or a locked gun room.

While many responsible gun owners safely secure their firearms, the reality is that too many gun owners do not.

Notably, this negligence affects children and not just adults.

A press release from the House said, “The vast majority of unintentional shooting deaths of children occur at home.”

The bill also mentioned that the safe storage of firearms could prevent suicide.

In a study from 2022, 569 people in the state died due to gun-related violence. Of those, 407 were suicides.

More can be done to prevent gun-related deaths, whether intentional or unintentional and whether through violence or suicide. Gun owners must be required to take further precautions and undergo annual training and review safety procedure requirements.

Awareness saves lives and gun owners must take more responsibility.

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