According to Prothrow-Stith and others, the United States continues to lead the world in gun violence. Provide and explain at least 3 factors that contribute to this trend.
As violence continues to escalate within the United States, the country continues to have the highest incident of death and injury due to firearms around the world. This unfortunate statistic is due to a variety of reasons. First, abuse of alcohol and drugs contributes to a majority of crimes attributed to gun violence. Second, the growing disparity between adult and adolescent gun usage is indicative of escalating violence. Finally, non-enforcement of gun laws is a leading factor in making the United States the country most impacted by gun violence.
The Office of Drug Policy and Violence Prevention performed a study that concluded that alcohol was a factor in between half and three-quarters of all homicides committed in the United States. Firearms are the most commonly-used weapon in the commission of homicides; a clear link can be seen between alcohol abuse and gun violence. In a 1999 issue of The Annals of Internal Medicine, author Linda Gunderson states that “One of the less obvious consequences of drug and alcohol abuse is its role as a cause of gun violence.” (Gunderson, 1999)
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Protection reports that “The firearm homicide rate for children under 15 years of age is 16 times higher in the United States than in 25 other industrialized countries combined.” (OJJDP, 2007) The same study goes on to say that in the next higher age group, the incidence of gun violence is higher than other industrialized countries by significant factors. This trending indicates a disparity between adult and adolescent gun usage in the commission of crimes, as each younger generation proves more violent than the last.
The National Education Association, Health Information Network, reports that a group called Americans for Gun Safety found in 2003 that “20 of the nation’s 22 national gun laws are not enforced”. (NEAHIN, 2005) Similarly, the NEAHIN also reports that only a fraction of crimes perpetrated with guns are ever prosecuted. This lack of enforcement sends a clear message to criminals: by and large, gun crimes will not be punished. This leads to the continuation of gun violence.
No one factor explains the continued incidences of gun violence in the United States. The study of the factors contributing to gun violence, however, can lead to the reduction of the commission of crimes in the future, making the United States a safer country. Until the United States discovers methods to reign in crime, they will continue to lead the world gun violence.
Gunderson, L. (1999). The Financial Costs of Gun Violence. Annals of Internal Medicine, 131(6), Retrieved June 30, 2007 from www.annals.org/cgi/content/full/131/6/483.
National Education Association Health Information Network (2005). Guns in the Wrong Hands.
Statistics: Gun Violence in Our Communities. Retrieved June 30, 2007 from www.neahin.org/programs/schoolsafety/gunsafety/statistics.htm#america
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Protection (2007). Gun Violence in the United
States. Promising Strategies to Reduce Gun Violence. Retrieved June 30, 2007 from