Gun violence kills 40,000 Americans a year, with firearms being the leading cause of death for children and teens. Politicians still offer empty thoughts and prayers after each publicized tragedy yet vote against measures to increase gun safety. The system is not working and it has cost millions of lives in the past 50 years. The selfishness of those in power who are profiting from the firearms industry (Ted Cruz was a top recipient of gun industry lobbying cash) is causing roughly $12.7 billion in taxpayers’ money to be spent on the problem of gun violence annually, instead of public works, education, social services from which all would benefit.

‘Gun laws don’t deter crime’ – the main argument against restrictive measures regarding the use of firearms. Whilst it is true that the states with the highest rates of gun ownership have the steepest drops in violent crimes such as assault and rape, this statistic does not include homicides, demonstrating that the decrease in violent crimes has resulted in an increase in murders, by no means justifying the pro- gun argument. In the past 30 years in incidents of mass shootings 75% of guns used are purchased legally; there is nothing to stop these heinous crimes from happening. Whilst gun laws do not prevent all crimes, the protection of gun ownership is protecting the ability to murder, and protecting the ability to take a life is both hypocritical and unconstitutional.

Only fifteen American states require any kind of background check before the purchase of any firearm. Despite this practice existing in less than a third of American states, background checks have stopped more than 3.5 million illegal gun sales to prohibited purchasers since 1994, saving countless lives. However, loopholes in the existing background checks allow them to be bypassed, allowing nearly one in four gun purchases to happen without the background checks required by law – the system needs changing.

Following the rise of social media and the current pandemic, serious mental health problems are increasing in prevalence. One in four Americans aged 18-25 have considered suicide in the last year and Emergency Room mental health admissions of children aged 13-17 has increased by 35%; as 82% of fatal suicide attempts are by use of a firearm it is clear that their easy accessibility is a major danger. The correlation between increase in firearm sales and suicide rates clearly indicate that the mental health and gun violence epidemics are related, and it is killing the youth of America.

Additionally, since the initial lockdown in March 2020, domestic abuse reports have more than doubled. This worrying statistic is a stark reminder of the effect of the pandemic on those in unsafe domestic circumstances. Furthermore, in the United States, nearly one million women alive today have been shot or shot at by an intimate partner and women in the US are 25 times more likely to be killed with a gun then women in other developed countries with gun laws. These horrifying statistics reiterate the fact that the accessibility of firearms protects nobody, but increases the risks faced by the vulnerable. Access to a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed; this must change.

Glamorisation and romanticisation of guns in the worlds of film and gaming has caused young people to be bombarded with images of violence to the point of desensitisation. Guns are fundamentally instruments of murder and education about this is a vital preventative measure that must be taken - it is imperative that additional restrictions are put in place regarding the ownership of firearms in America, tighter restrictions could save millions of lives in the future.