Gun violence is a tragedy that many have lived through in their daily lives or encountered an incident including gun violence as a child. It is not just the terror of experiencing an attack but the experience of being stripped of the right to live. The perpetrators of gun violence can be as young as teenagers or even younger in some places.
There is an unsettling familiarity with regards to school shootings in the United States. This month a student in Russia opened fire at a university killing at least six people including three teenagers and wounding many others. While Russia and other parts of the world have experienced mass shootings, especially in schools and universities, this is a reminder that gun violence is not just an American issue.
School shootings have become a regular part of the news, but the factors leading to a student picking up a firearm are not properly looked into. The reasons are varied but countries are still falling short of addressing them thoroughly. Amnesty International reported that there were 316 incidents of gunfire on school grounds in the U.S.A., but the country has yet to come to a consensus on gun control.
According to a report by Amnesty International, more than 500 people die every day from gun violence and 44% of all homicides globally involve gun violence. The number of firearm-related deaths globally between 2012 and 2016 was 1.4 million and it has remained largely unchanged in the past few years.
The question about civilians’, or even teenagers’, access to firearms remains a pressing issue while trying to resolve the problem of gun violence. While some countries have yet to impose stricter gun control laws, others like the recent case in Russia will be dealing with the remnants of the delayed gun control regulations.
The journey to address gun violence issues begins with the state. But how do you address an issue that is an industry worth billions of dollars? How do you start reforming laws when a powerful country like the U.S. has the right to keep and bear arms as its Second Amendment in the Constitution?
The United Nations has already set up some international regulations with regards to possession of small arms, creating a list of prohibitions for civilians purchasing gun licenses, with exceptions. If countries like the U.S. find it difficult to address this internal conflict, they can look at tightening measures like background checks for licenses and issuing these licenses for a shorter period.
This may act as a deterrent, as it makes the entire process expensive and time-consuming while ensuring that an individual is subjected to renewed background checks each time they need a new license. Some countries like Canada prohibit the possession of certain categories of firearms by individuals. This ensures that riskier firearms like automatic firearms, semi-automatic assault rifles, semi-automatic shotguns, and others stay off the market. These laws need to go together with criminalizing illegal possession and use, and ensuring that support and outreach programs for education, reforms, and enforcements receive adequate funding.
Several countries like New Zealand, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and others have stricter gun reforms in place reducing the rate of firearm violence over time. Holding governments and the firearms industry accountable for their actions, or in many cases their inaction, may just be the first step to securing an individual’s right to live in the future.