How Many More?

An In-Depth Analysis of Gun Violence in the USA

How Many More?

Lilly Keith, Writer

In 2023 alone, there have been 63 reports of mass shootings as of Feb. 8. According to CNN, there have been “more mass shootings in 2023 so far than at this point in any year on record.”


A mass shooting by definition of the FBI is when an incident occurs where at least four people are killed by a gun. This is what most other groups define a mass shooting as, but not all organizations agree on the number of which constitutes a mass shooting. Some say that three victims constitutes a mass shooting. 


Mass shootings have always been an issue in our country. However, mass shootings are on the rise in our country. Our easy access to firearms in the United States causes people to obtain and misuse their weapons. 


The United States is one the easiest countries to access a handgun in. All you have to do is pass a background check once you are 18, and in some states, a possible waiting period. Then you’re cleared for the purchase of a handgun.


These steps are the only ones required in the state of Kentucky when purchasing a handgun from a retail gun seller. Some states do have different restrictions. However, if your background check is cleared, you can then purchase a gun. 


If buying a handgun from a private seller in Kentucky, you don’t even need a background check. You just have to be 18.


In many other countries, buying a handgun is an extended process. There are a multitude of steps you have to take in order to obtain a weapon in many other countries. 


For example, there are 12 steps you have to take in Japan before you can legally purchase a gun. In many other countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Germany, and Russia, there are six steps you have to take in the gun purchasing process before you can legally handle your weapon. 


Mass shootings in countries such as the aforementioned ones are few and far between. Japan only sees about 10 gun deaths a year. 


Gun violence in New Zealand has undergone reform of their laws ever since the Christchurch terrorist shootings in 2019. There have only been four incidents of gun violence that killed more than five people since these reforms.  


Germany experienced two mass shootings in school environments, causing Germany to tighten up gun laws. They have effectively cut their mass shooting rate in half. They face about 50 incidents a year. 


The lack of gun reform and control in America has only gotten worse throughout the years. 


In 2021, there were 690 mass shootings that resulted in at least 4 people being killed or injured in our country. In 2022, there were 647 shootings under the same circumstances. 


So far in the new year of 2023, there have been 96 deaths from all the combined U.S. mass shootings. The deadliest shooting so far was in Monterey Park, CA where 12 people died and nine were injured. 


The U.S. has the highest child and teen firearm death rate at 5.6. This number is more significant than any other of our peer countries. The country closest behind us is Canada at 0.8. 


Why is gun violence such a prevalent issue in the United States?


The root causes of Gun Violence in America are as follows according to The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (EFSGV): income equality, poverty, underfunded public housing, under-resourced public services, underperforming schools, lack of opportunity and perceptions of hopelessness, and easy access to firearms by high-risk people. 


Gun violence impacts everyone. Not just the injured or killed in episodes of gun violence. Guns are the leading cause of death in children and teens in the United States according to Every Town Research


Gun violence is also a prevalent issue in racially diverse areas.


“Communities of color are impacted by structural inequalities rooted in racism,” says the EFSGV. “Structural inequalities are caused by racist policies that target communities of color and create segregated and underinvested neighborhoods; these inequalities fuel gun violence.”


The leading cause of death for black males under 55 is gun violence. 60% of death by firearm victims are Black Americans, even though Black Americans only make up about 15% of the U.S. population. 


“Young Black males ages 15-24 are 22 times more likely to be murdered by firearm than their White counterparts and young Hispanic males are over 4 times more likely to be murdered by firearm than their White counterparts,” says EFSGV. “Young Black females ages 15-24 are over 6 times more likely to be murdered by firearm than their White counterparts and young Hispanic females are nearly 2 times more likely to be murdered by firearm than their White counterparts.”


Gun violence has a lasting impact on people who are exposed to it, whether or not they faced fatalities or injuries. It can leave individuals with PTSD, Depression, stunted cognitive and emotional development as well as alcohol and substance abuse. It can also lead to an increased likelihood of engaging in violence.


The argument of whether or not access to firearms is the problem or mental health really is the issue is a heavily studied argument. The Columbia University Department of Psychiatry conducted a study on whether or not there is a link between mental health and gun violence. 


“The public tends to link serious mental illnesses, like schizophrenia or psychotic disorders, with violence and mass shootings. But serious mental illness—specifically psychosis—is not a key factor in most mass shootings or other types of mass murder,” said Ragy Girgis, MD, associate professor of clinical psychiatry. 


The link between mental health and the likeliness to commit a shooting has dropped over time. 


“Approximately 5% of mass shootings are related to severe mental illness. And although a much larger number of mass shootings (about 25%) are associated with non-psychotic psychiatric or neurological illnesses, including depression, and an estimated 23% with substance use, in most cases these conditions are incidental.”


The solution to reducing gun violence in our country is making access to firearms more difficult. As mentioned previously, Japan’s firearm purchasing process isn’t short and sweet. It’s a long process, but an effective one. Their fatality rate on gun violence is the lowest of our peer countries at 0.1. 


Though we would have to make guns more difficult to access, that doesn’t mean that our citizens would not have access to them. Individuals would still be able to purchase firearms. This reform would not take away our right to bear arms. 


In order for our country to be an equal country and try to appease the majority, we have to allow firearms in our country, but under very restricted access. Firearm dealers need to be legally required to do at least a background check, and at least a few more basic safety requirements and assessments. 


Gun violence is a public health crisis. Reforming access to firearms is essential to healing our country’s illness regarding violence. How many more mass shootings will it take for something to be done?