Big Stories of 2017: Gun Violence

2017 has certainly been a tragic and frightful year for many people. Two of the most deadly mass shootings occurred a month from each other. One happened in Las Vegas on October 1st, leaving 58 people dead and 546 people injured, and the other happened in Texas on November 5th, leaving 26 people dead. These are just some of the many results of the ultimate problem: gun violence.

In the United States, one person dies from gun violence every fifteen minutes and a large factor that contributes to this would be the amount of gun ownership, which is more than 300 million. For every 100 people, an estimated own a firearm. Because of the substantial amount of firearms that exist, many people have instead been advocating for gun regulation instead of gun bans. Previous attempts to ban guns have seemed to contribute to an increase in gun sales when gun owners get worried. Therefore, there have been constant efforts to make firearms safer, to limit access to firearms, and to pass laws that regulate firearms. This has been proven to be effective when considering strong gun regulation laws in California where an estimate of 7 per 100,000 people have died from gun violence compared to weak gun regulations in Alaska where an estimate of 20 per 100,000 people has died from gun violence.

It’s important to note that mass shootings are not the main cause of death from guns. In 2016, an estimated 22,000 people died from gun suicide, about 11,760 people died from homicides, 589 perpetrators were killed by victims in self-defense, and 456 people were killed in mass shootings. Even though mass shootings cannot be prevented, a lot of unnecessary deaths can be avoided if access to firearms is limited and regulated by strong gun laws. Strong gun laws have been shown to make a difference. In 1995, Connecticut passed stronger gun laws and their gun homicide rates decreased by 40% and their gun suicide rates decreased by 15%. However, in 2007, Missouri repealed some gun laws and their gun homicide rates rose by 25% and their gun suicide rates rose by 16%. The numbers don’t lie – stronger gun laws lead to less gun-related homicides and suicides.

Gun violence is a serious problem in which we should all acknowledge as a society. Several factors came into play in the mass shootings of this year, which are starting to seemingly occur like clockwork, but it is undeniably coherent that, in order to make our community less vulnerable to gun-related deaths, we must support safer firearms, limited access to firearms, and laws that effectively regulate firearms.