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which amounts to about 270,000,000 guns, including rifles, pistols, and shotguns; this is the world's largest amount (Haider and Frank 8). The prevalent weapons culture in the United States derives in part from the country's political origins, territorial expansion, colonial experience, and the Second Amendment, which grants citizens, mostly militia, the freedom to keep and bear arms. The effects of gun culture have an effect on the larger US society. With over 25% percent of children witnessing acts of violence in their homes and schools over the recent past, it becomes necessary to regulate the use of firearms, especially in public places.
Gun violence in the US has produced a culture that threatens the people and extends from accidental shootings, domestic violence, and suicides to mass shooting. Research shows that there were 464,033 gun deaths between 1999 and 2013; cases of suicide were 270, 237, homicides 174,773 and unintentional deaths were 9,983 ("Gun Control - Procon.Org"). The gun culture does not spare even the youngest of children. On average, a child under 12 years is usually killed every day by a firearm, which amounts to 555 cases over a three-year period (Giroux). An even more alarming statistics shows that gunfire claimed the lives of 2,525 teens and children in 2014 (Giroux). Such numbers indicate that the US is at war with itself on many levels and that children are increasingly being subjected to theaters of violence, terror, and trauma.
For instance, most states that allow people to carry concealed weapon require the owner to obtain a permit before doing so. However, other states like Arizona, Alaska, and Wyoming allows such a practice without a license ("Gun Laws"). In Vermont, people as young as 16 years old are allowed carry concealed weapons even without parental permission. In other states, carrying concealed guns is allowed. Although the Gun-Free Schools Zones Act criminalizes the act, states like Kansas passed a law permitting the concealed carry of firearms in K-12 schools. Michigan has also followed suit by enacting a law allowing the concealed carry in daycare centers, churches, bars, and schools.
While many states have adopted licensing schemes to regulate concealed carry, the recent surge in open carry has exposed weak laws in various states including Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Tennessee and others that permit this conduct. Open carry poses significant challenges for police officers responding to 911 calls regarding people carrying guns in public. Arguments that open carrying of firearms is crucial for self-defense contradicts with the available research. Even in self-defense, the use of guns is no more likely to reduce the likelihood of people being injured during a crime than other forms of protective actions. In fact, one research suggests that carrying a gun can increase the victim's risk of injury during the commissioning of the crime (Defilippis and Hughes). Therefore, instead of heightening security, both concealed and open carrying of firearms increases chances of petty interpersonal conflicts turning into a deadly shootout.
The American commercial gun and ammunition market is a multi-billion dollar business. Despite the negative impact of the gun culture, companies that manufacture and sell firearms, ammunition and other accessories constitute an important part of the US economy. In this light, the manufacturers of such items provide well-paying jobs in addition to contributing considerable amounts in tax to the state as well as the federal governments. According to a report by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, companies that deal with firearms, hunting equipment, and ammunition employ about 141,500 people in the US (Firearms and Ammunition Industry Economic Impact Report 8). Moreover, the business generated 159,623 more jobs in ancillary and service business. These jobs pay handsomely with most paying an average of $50,423 in both wages and benefits.
As a matter of facts, the firearms and ammunition sector contributed more than $51.3 billion in overall economic activity in the country last year (Fineman). The broader economic effect extends throughout US economy, generating business for organizations seemingly unrelated to firearms. Many people working in different countries including retail, banking, accounting, and metal working, to mention but a few, all depend on the firearms industry in one way or another. What is more important is that the sector generates significant tax revenues. The industry pays more than $6.5 billion in state and federal taxes including income, property, and sales-based levies.
Indeed America is suffering from an epidemic of violence, much of which results in shooting and killing of innocent people especially children. Even though the culture has sizable financial benefits, it is certainly a major problem in the US. The current reforms are cannot adequately address the situation without first addressing corrupt Congress members who facilitate the conditions for gun violence and mass shooting. A mass political reform is required to challenge the current system which gives warmongering politicians excessive power. This change will only occur with the development of a country in which the obligation to justice is complimented by immeasurable responsibility to collective struggle.
Defilippis, Evan, and Devin Hughes. "The Numbers On Campus Carry Show Risks Outweigh Benefits." The Trace, 2015, https://www.thetrace.org/2015/11/campus-carry-self-defense-accidental-shootings-research/.
Fineman, Elliot. "Billions Of Non-Gun Owner Tax Dollars Pay For Gun Owners’ Hobby." National Gun Victims Action Council, 2017, http://gunvictimsaction.org/whats-new/.
Firearms and Ammunition Industry Economic Impact Report. Nssf.Org, Newtown, CT, 2017, p. 3, http://www.nssf.org/impact/EconomicImpactofIndustry2017.pdf.
Giroux, Henry A. America At War With Itself. 1st ed., 2016.
Giroux, Henry A. "America’s Addiction to Violence." Philosophers for Change, 2016, https://philosophersforchange.org/2016/01/05/americas-addiction-to-violence/.
"Gun Control - Procon.Org". Gun-Control.Procon.Org, 2016, http://gun-control.procon.org/.
"Gun Laws". NRA-ILA, 2017, https://www.nraila.org/gun-laws/.
Haider, Muhiuddin, and Jared Frank. "Firearms: Ownership, Laws & And The Case For Community Mobilization." International Journal Of Public Health Science (IJPHS), vol 3, no. 1, 2014, Institute Of Advanced Engineering And Science, doi:10.11591/ijphs.v3i1.5520.
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