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More guns than people: Why tighter U.S. firearms laws are unlikely

16 Comments
By Andy Sullivan

President Joe Biden announced limited measures to tackle gun violence in the United States last week, but more ambitious steps will be harder to enact despite widespread public support.

Here are some facts about gun violence in the United States:

HOW MANY AMERICANS OWN GUNS?

With about 121 firearms in circulation for every 100 residents, the United States is by far the most heavily armed society in the world, according to the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey, a research group.

However, gun ownership is becoming less common across the country. One in three U.S. households owned firearms in 2016, down from nearly half in 1990, according to the RAND Corp think tank. Ownership varies significantly by state: 66% of Montana households owned firearms, compared with just 8% in New Jersey.

WHAT SORT OF LAWS GOVERN FIREARMS?

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution enshrines the "right to bear arms," which the Supreme Court has interpreted to allow individuals to keep handguns at home for self-defense. The conservative-leaning court may soon decide whether gun owners can carry guns outside the home.

The federal government requires most gun buyers to clear a criminal background check and tightly regulates ownership of machine guns, which are fully automatic, and silencers.

Most other gun laws are set at the state level, where policies vary widely https://giffords.org/lawcenter/resources/scorecard.

Many Democratic-dominated states have tightened their laws in recent years.

California, for example, has banned military-style semi-automatic "assault weapons" and large-capacity magazines and has the most robust "red flag" system, which allows authorities to take firearms away from people determined to be dangerous.

The state also prohibits people from carrying loaded firearms in public -- a practice known as "open carry" -- and gun owners must get a permit before carrying a concealed loaded weapon.

Gun laws are much more permissive in rural states, including Idaho, Kentucky and Wyoming.

Mississippi has the most permissive U.S. laws, according to the Giffords Law Center, a gun-control group. Residents of that state do not need a permit to carry loaded weapons, whether openly or concealed, and sales of "assault weapons" and large-capacity magazines are legal. Buyers do not face waiting periods and the state does not have a red-flag law.

Mississippi and 28 other states also have enacted "Stand Your Ground" laws that allow people to use deadly force when they feel threatened.

WHAT IMPACT DOES THIS HAVE?

Americans aren't necessarily more violent than other cultures - but their disputes are more likely to turn deadly, expert say.

University of Iowa criminology professor Mark Berg found the rates of assault in the United States are similar to other countries, but homicide rates are higher due to the prevalence of guns.

Firearms were a factor in 39,740 U.S. deaths in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), similar to the number caused by motor-vehicle accidents. Suicides account for six out of 10 gun deaths.

WILL GUN LAWS CHANGE?

Gun rights are one of the most divisive issues in American politics. Supporters see firearms as an important tool for self-defense, target shooting and hunting, as well as a powerful symbol of individual rights. Critics say America's permissive approach leads to tens of thousands of deaths each year.

High-profile mass shootings have increased public pressure to tighten regulations. Most Americans support tougher gun laws, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling, but Washington has done little to address the problem in recent years.

One reason: Small, rural states where gun ownership is widespread have disproportionate influence in the U.S. Senate, where a supermajority of 60 votes is needed to advance most legislation in the 100-seat chamber.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed legislation expanding background checks last month, but it faces long odds in the Senate, which is split 50-50 between the two parties.

With Congress deadlocked, presidents have acted on their own.

After a 2018 mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people, then-President Donald Trump banned "bump stocks" that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire at a rate similar to automatic ones.

But Trump, a Republican, also made it easier for people with mental illness to buy guns.

Biden, a Democrat, aims to tighten regulations on self-assembled "ghost guns" that currently can be sold without serial numbers or background checks and to make it easier for states to adopt red-flag laws.

CHANGING POLITICS?

The political landscape may be changing. The National Rifle Association (NRA) has been one of the most influential gun rights lobbying groups in Washington for decades, but has been hobbled in recent years by infighting. The group recently filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to stave off a legal challenge in New York.

The NRA gave $30 million to candidates in the 2020 presidential and congressional elections, down from $55 million in 2016, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Meanwhile, advocacy groups like Moms Demand Action that back stronger restrictions have stepped up lobbying expenses over the past decade, though they still trail gun-rights groups as a whole.

© Thomson Reuters 2021.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

16 Comments
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California is doing something right. You don't need to carry a weapon on you in public unless it's your job. Problem is, that NRA loudmouth is a greedy liar. He spreads hysteria and he praised the 1995 OKC bombings.

This past January only shows that America is being held hostage to hatred, fascism, misinformation, superstition, racism, hysteria, idolatry, hypocrisy, and other social and moral diseases. It has been festering like a boil for over 30 years, and the volcano erupted.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Many Americans are in denial. I heard a comment from Biden that these mass shootings are a 'national embarrassment' for America, I'd actually call them a national tragedy.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

A few years back a Japanese person was arrested for owning a gun. He had printed it out on a 3-D printer. I'm sure some people in the US have done the same. There are more guns out there than anyone knows.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have them all, but only virtual, while playing Doom. So you can have even more fun and bloody violence without any real gun and without a single drop of blood. Try that instead, you’ll surely like it.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I think they can restrict certain semiautomatic weapons and decrease the likelihood of nutjobs buying guns. Beyond that is not politically possible, and even that will be difficult.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

lives matter not guns

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The sad truth is that most Americans (though not the posters on JT) see the death toll from guns as a price they are willing to pay for keeping their firearms. The will for legislation just isn't there.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

lives matter not guns

Aye.

But apparently, at least one person browsing thinks guns matter more.

Terrifying.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The sad truth is that most Americans (though not the posters on JT) see the death toll from guns as a price they are willing to pay for keeping their firearms.

Yet the article says that most American households don't keep guns.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Less than 42% of American households own a gun.

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/10/22/facts-about-guns-in-united-states/

1 ( +1 / -0 )

California is doing something right. You don't need to carry a weapon on you in public unless it's your job.

Well, you can't unless you have a special weapon conceal permit and those are not easy to get.

Problem is, that NRA loudmouth is a greedy liar.

Because they enshrine and safeguard our 2nd amendment rights? 

This past January only shows that America is being held hostage to hatred, fascism, misinformation, superstition, racism, hysteria, idolatry, hypocrisy, and other social and moral diseases. It has been festering like a boil for over 30 years, and the volcano erupted.

This is true and as long as this admin continues to demonize guns and every law-abiding citizen, add to that the war of defunding the police will only increase gun sales

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It’s clear that the constitution is no impediment to the Lefts abuse of civil rights. But unless and until judges are put in place that will ignore the plain text of the constitution, the right to own a gun will not go away. I don’t understand why the Left spends decades fighting against the letter of the law when they could be running on the elimination of the second amendment.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Suicides account for six out of 10 gun deaths.

Given that suicide seems a motivation for many desperate psychopaths who cannot do it themselves to go out and murder innocent people to ensure their own departure, might we count mass murders in this stat as well, 'collateral damage' in a way? And guns, why the obsessive fear in our conservative mentalities which makes people with short attention spans buy more guns and use them on each other with such abandon? Is it our subliminal awareness of the harm America does in our World and what we would do if someone did what America does to others to us which makes us so hostile to each other? Do we hate ourselves? Our now more than daily mass murders would suggest a serious pathology of some sort infects Americans more than other identities. Perhaps that is what we should be more seriously investigating, the actual behavior rather than the otherwise inert tools? But that would require thinking and in all debates around guns, thinking is the first casualty.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lol !!..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

the right to own a gun will not go away

That's what they keep telling you sad souls: 'THEY' are going to take ALL of the guns out of our cold, numb, T2 diabetic neuropathetic hands!" No. 'They' are not. The 'they' most dangerous to gun ownership are the 'they' who should not be allowed to own even a slingshot. Can ANY gun 'enthusiast' assert that there are NO people who should be barred from owning lethal weaponry? That any person regardless of their personality or mental state be allowed complete freedom in regard to the armament they carry when going out into the wilds of collective America? Can we somehow get people who mindlessly advocate for total weapon freedom to somehow pay attention to the 'freedom' which people are manifesting? Freedom to kill they who anger us, or who are simply and innocently there when we want to end ourselves but require extreme assistance? And, as long as we have not a single worthy clue as to why we are killing each other with such élan, there MUST be some limit on the damage we can do to each other in a single event. That is all anyone is trying to do, not ban guns but save all of the innocent people who will certainly die heinous deaths if we do not find SOME way to mitigate our own collective murderousness. And BTW, libtards carry as many CCLs in America as their backward looking adversaries but do not feel so threatened as to need military grade defense they would never have time to deploy anyway, but is still available when compos mentis goes to zero.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

William Bjornson,

I'm sure there's a point in there, somewhere.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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