The United States has more guns per capita than any other peer nation; Americans constitute about 4% of the world’s population but own 42% of all civilian firearms. On average, there is a mass shooting almost every day of the year in the United States, and the nation has far higher rates of gun homicides than any other developed nation. Firearm suicides in the US are also dismally common, with suicides actually comprising the majority of gun-related deaths. However, thanks to continued lobbying by the National Rifle Association (NRA), Congress has repeatedly failed to take meaningful action and curb gun violence.
Gun violence prevention experts have recommended a number of policy approaches to reduce gun violence:
— Congress can close legal loopholes that allow people to buy guns without background checks from private sellers, websites, or gun shows. A move that over 80% of gun owners support. — Congress can institute universal background checks for both gun and ammo purchasers and require gun licenses, all measures supported by the vast majority of Americans. — Congress can adequately fund community-based interventions such as the nearly 20-year-old Ceasefire program, an underfunded effort that has helped to reduce gun violence in cities through education and public health crisis strategies. — Congress can reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, or pass new legislation banning the purchase of high-capacity magazines and military-style assault weapons.
America’s disproportionately high rates of gun-related deaths are both tragic and shameful. Congress can save lives by passing common-sense legislation to reduce gun violence.