Another viewpoint: It’s way past time for stronger gun control

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If images of blood-spattered school hallways, hysterical parents and grieving communities won’t crack stubborn resistance to stronger gun control laws, perhaps statistics that characterize this nation’s deadly and unparalleled obsession with firearms might.

On May 2, the Associated Press reported that nearly 100 people had already been killed in mass shootings in the United States this year. That was using a database that counts incidents involving four or more fatalities, not including the perpetrator.

Other organizations track mass shootings differently. The Gun Violence Archive defines mass shootings as incidents in which four or more people are killed or injured by gunfire. Using that definition, mass shootings in the United States rose from 273 in 2014 to 417 by 2019.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, the toll mounted again — 610 mass shootings occurred in the United States that year, only to be eclipsed by a record 647 in 2022. Through May 16 this year, the number stood at 225, on pace to reach 603 by the end of the year.

Mass shootings, though, account for just a small portion of gun-related deaths in the United States annually.

Nearly 16,000 Americans have died and almost 13,000 have been injured already this year by gun violence. That puts us on pace to have another year like 2021, the most recent year for complete data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when 48,830 Americans died of gun-related injuries.

By the way, 2020 was a record-breaking year for firearms deaths in the United States before 2021 brought a year-over-year increase of 8%.

Americans kill themselves with guns at a far greater rate than almost everywhere else. The exceptions are Venezuela, Mexico and a few other countries where drug cartels broker in bullets.

According to the World Population Review, there have been 10.89 deaths by gun violence for every 100,000 Americans so far this year. Compare that to our nation’s peers: Canada (2.26), the United Kingdom (0.24) and France (3.24).

More than half of gun-related deaths in the United States annually come by suicide, and it’s no wonder. If you’re feeling really down and ready to give up, you’re much more likely here than elsewhere to find a gun within reach.

These statistics from the Small Arms Survey are several years old, but they reflect the persistent problem of gun availability in this country. In 2018, the United States had 120.5 firearms per 100 residents, up from 88 per 100 residents in 2011. The next closest country in the world in 2018 was Yemen, with 52.8 guns per 100 residents.

And, finally,come these statistics from 2021: More than 50 people are killed each day by a firearm in the United States, where gun-related killings represent 80.5% of all homicides. Compare that to Canada (40%), Australia (11%) and England and Wales (4%).

This preponderance of statistical evidence, along with local anecdotes of agonizing gun violence inflicting families and communities across the country, point to this reality: We need stronger gun control laws in the United States.

It’s way past time for Congress to step forward to reinstitute the ban on assault-style rifles and draft other federal measures to halt the onslaught of gun violence. Let’s end this national nightmare.