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The Quiet Carnage of Gun Violence

in America

 

It is rare when tens of thousands of people die every year in the US from the same cause, and no one seems to takes notice. But that is exactly the situation with gun violence in America. Tens of thousands of Americans die from gun violence every year, and tens of thousands more are injured. Yet we, as a country, seem unable or unwilling to deal with this problem, or even take notice of the scale of it. Gun violence has become so prevalent in our society, that we seem almost used to it. As if there is nothing we can do about it.

It is perplexing that America has not been able to substantially reduce gun violence. There is a not lot of debate about whether gun violence is good or bad for America. No one supports gun violence. Everyone agrees that less gun violence makes for a safer and saner society for our children and our families. Yet year after year, gun violence remains a persistent problem for this country. Are we tacitly accepting gun violence as just a part of living in America?

The mass shooting in Las Vegas was a turning point for us. A crazed individual legally purchased an arsenal of assault weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition, to attack a music festival and senselessly kill 58 and injure over 800 innocent people. It was the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

And our guns laws enabled it. And still do. We didn’t understand. How could this be possible in a civilized society?

In researching gun violence in the US, we found that mass shootings such as Las Vegas, Parkland, Sandy Hook and others were just the tip of the iceberg. The problem is much, much worse. Gun violence is so pervasive in America that over 100 people are being killed by guns every day. The vast majority are killed by handguns in hundreds of shootings that happen each and every day in this country. We as a nation rightfully mourn the loss of innocent lives from mass shootings like Las Vegas. However, the widespread shootings happening in numerous states in our country on a daily basis don’t get much national attention, even though they result in almost as many deaths as two Las Vegas shootings every day. There are so many shootings and they are so frequent that they seem to blend into the normal drumbeat of regular events. Gun violence has become normal for America. Is this our new normal?

Is This Our New Normal?

The numbers behind gun violence are overwhelming. In 2019, 39,472 people died from gun violence in the United States. In 2018, 39,221 people died, and in 2017, 39,533 died from gun violence in the United States. Almost 40,000 Americans have died from gun violence in each of the last 3 years. 60% of these gun deaths are suicides and 40% are homicides. An additional 30,000 people are injured from gun violence each year.

Graph: freefromgunviolence.org

Gun deaths in 2019 represent a 17% increase from five years ago. The problem is getting worse. And 2020 is on pace to surpass every other year and set a new record for deaths from gun violence.

These numbers are staggering yet somehow don’t do justice to the full extent of the carnage. These aren’t just numbers, these are people. They are fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. And they leave behind the painful loss of a life taken too soon with everyone that knew them.

40,000 people is the size of a small city. Imagine if everyone in a US city like Annapolis, Maryland (pop: 39,223) or Lake Oswego, Oregon (pop: 39,822) or Cedar Falls, Iowa (pop: 40, 536) were killed by something within one year. It would be a national emergency and citizens and the government would spring into action to make sure this disaster didn’t befall another city next year. But in the case of gun violence, our government is unwilling or unable to prevent it from happening again next year. And the next year. And every year after that. Are we ok with this? Is our government ok with this?

The carnage includes thousands of children and teens under the age of 18 that are killed or injured each year. In 2019, 3,791 children or teens under the age of 18 were killed or injured by gun violence in the United States.

Graph: freefromgunviolence.org

Imagine if a new product or toy was introduced that killed or injured 3,800 children every year. How long do you think it would stay on the market? The FDA and Consumer Product Safety Commission have banned all kinds of products deemed dangerous to kids, including Lawn Darts, Buckyballs, bean bag chairs and electric blankets. All of them combined do not come close to 3,800 child deaths or injuries per year.

It’s a staggering loss of life, and it’s happening every day of every year. And on top of all of that, it is getting worse, not better.

Compared to other similar countries, gun violence in the US is drastically worse. The US has 11 times more gun deaths per capita than 28 other comparable countries combined. And the US has 25 times more gun homicides per capita than the same 28 comparable countries combined. In other words you are 11 times more likely to die by a gun, and 25 times more likely to be murdered by a gun in the US compared to 28 other similar countries combined. Wow.

What can we do? Fundamentally, we have two choices: we can continue to ignore the mounting gun violence afflicting our country and accept it as the new normal, or we can take a stand against gun violence and work towards a better, less violent future. We choose the latter.

We refuse to accept rampant gun violence as the new normal in our country, and we will work to make America safer for us, for you, for our children and grandchildren.

Free From Gun Violence was founded with the mission to help build a better future by reducing gun violence in America. We will broaden the awareness of gun violence, analyze and expose the issues behind it, and advocate all means to reduce it to make our country safer. Join us and help to build a country free from gun violence.

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