February 1, 2023

On June 11, 2022, people gather in Washington, DC, USA, during a rally denouncing rising gun violence and urging politicians to take action. (Source: Xinhua/Liu Jie)

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) — The United States has seen over 1 million gun-related deaths over the past three decades, with death rates hitting a 28-year high in 2021 amid a surge in both gun violence and gun ownership .

From 1990 to 2021, there were 1,110,421 gun-related deaths in the country, nearly 86 percent of them among men, according to a recent study published in the JAMA Network Open, an open-access medical journal published by the American Medical Association .

Death rates per 100,000 people per year began to rise again after a low of 10.1 in 2004, eventually rising 45.5 percent to 14.7 in 2021.

“Firearm deaths have accelerated dramatically during the COVID pandemic,” said Eric Fleegler, one of the authors who takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

“Several potential factors likely contributed, including severe economic hardship, an emerging mental health crisis, and a significant increase in firearm sales,” said Fleegler, associate professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at Harvard Medical School and emergency medicine physician at Boston Children’s Hospital.

On June 11, 2022, people gather in Washington, DC, USA, during a rally denouncing rising gun violence and urging politicians to take action. (Source: Xinhua/Liu Jie)

DIFFERENCES

The study also underscored the increasing disparities in gun death rates between racial and ethnic groups.

Homicides were most common among black non-Hispanic men ages 20 to 40, and suicides were most common among white non-Hispanic men ages 70 or older.

Differences in maximum death rates per 100,000 people per year among women were highest from homicide, with black non-Hispanic women dying in 2021 at a maximum rate of 18.2 deaths, Hispanic women at 3.7 deaths, and white non- Hispanic women with 2.2 deaths.

The increase in women — most dramatically among black women — plays a tragic and underestimated role in a tally that’s overwhelmingly male, the researchers said, according to the Associated Press.

“Women can get lost in the discussion because so many of the fatalities are men,” Fleegler said.

Gun control standoff

The study followed two high-profile mass shootings in the United States that reignited debate over the country’s gun policy.

Last week, a night shift supervisor at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, opened fire at the grocery store, killing six and injuring four others before taking his own life. Days earlier, a shooter with an AR-15 rifle killed five and wounded 19 others at a nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“I’m sick of these shootings,” US President Joe Biden said last week. “We should have much stricter gun laws.”

However, the US Congress is unlikely to approve an assault weapons ban anytime soon.

Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives next term, making it almost impossible for gun control legislation to get through the chamber.

In the Senate, Democrats have retained their majority, but they don’t have enough votes to overcome the filibuster and pass new gun regulations.

After the new Congress convenes early next year, Republicans on Capitol Hill are likely to go head-to-head with Democrats on gun issues.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, tweeted Thursday that he will seek to “strengthen the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”

Aerial photo shows a gun-shaped formation of school buses in Houston, the United States, on July 13, 2022. (change ref/handout via Xinhua)

INCREASING GUN OWNERSHIP

About a third of American adults say they personally own a gun, according to the Pew Research Center.

The United States has more guns than any other country, with an estimated 400 million+ guns shared between police, military and American civilians. Over 393 million — over 98 percent — of those guns are in civilian hands, the equivalent of 120 firearms for every 100 people.

The number keeps growing every year.

Firearm sales soared during the COVID-19 pandemic, with an estimated 7.5 million new firearm owners and 5.4 million households that previously did not have firearms now have firearms, according to the study in JAMA Network Open, adding that the Increase was associated with exposure of more than 16 million people to firearms for the first time at home.

Last week, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a national American trade association for the firearms industry, said federal agencies conducted 711,372 background checks on retail firearm purchases in the week leading up to and including “Black Friday.”

The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest gun selling day of the year in the United States, and last Friday was surpassed by only two other Black Fridays in 2017 and 2019.

Gun control advocates in the country have pointed the finger at gun manufacturers and a federal law that protects them from liability if crimes have been committed with their products.

“While families across the country sat at their dinner tables with empty seats mourning the loss of loved ones stolen by gun violence, the gun industry — an industry with unique legal protections that protect it from liability — hit record sales,” said Everytown for Gun Safety , an American non-profit organization that campaigns for gun control and against gun violence, tweeted Thursday.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were at least 618 mass shootings, defined by the nonprofit as those in which at least four people were shot dead, excluding the gunman, in the United States during the first 11 months of this year. Last year there was a staggering 690 mass shootings in the country, up from 610 in 2020 and 417 in 2019.

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