Efforts to tackle gun violence

At least two mass shootings occurred in the US within three days. As one of the most serious and difficult-to-solve problems in the US, gun violence has been considered a “pandemic” spreading unending pain and obsession to the people.

A demonstrator holds a placard while taking part in the 'March for Our Lives', one of a series of nationwide protests against gun violence, in Washington, D.C., the US. (Photo: Reuters)
A demonstrator holds a placard while taking part in the 'March for Our Lives', one of a series of nationwide protests against gun violence, in Washington, D.C., the US. (Photo: Reuters)

Two shootings occurred during the early days of August this year in the US, causing casualties to innocent people. The shooting in Northeast Washington, not far from Capitol Hill, killed one man and injured five others. Meanwhile, another overnight incident in downtown Orlando has left seven people injured.

Gun violence has been a "serious disease" that has plagued America for many years. However, it is worth noting that the number of shootings has been increasing at an alarming rate. According to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the number of shootings in this country in 2021 was 52% higher than in 2020 and twice as high as three years prior.

Great efforts have been promoted by US officials to tackle gun violence. More than a month ago, US President Joe Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law, marking an important step forward in addressing this burning issue since the ten-year assault weapons ban expired in 1994.

With 80 pages, the bill addresses mental health, school security and crisis intervention as well as encourages states to include juvenile records in the criminal background check system. Although the provisions of the law do not consist of some of the sweeping reform proposals proposed by US President Joe Biden, such as a complete ban on the use of assault rifles, this is considered a very worthwhile effort by bipartisan lawmakers.

However, after the US achieved the above-mentioned meaningful progress, the series of shootings continued, posing great challenges to the authorities. According to the non-governmental organisation Gun Violence Archive, more than 500 shooting incidents, including at least 11 mass ones, occurred in most states across the US during the Independence Day holiday from July 1 to 4. The shootings claimed the lives of at least 220 people and injured 570.

Treatment for gun injuries costs more than 1 billion USD per year in the US, according to the US Joint Economic Committee. This is the bell that urges US officials to continue to act stronger and more decisively to thoroughly tackle gun violence, which has had negative impacts on the social life of the country.

Experts said that social unrest, especially during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, has made millions of Americans buy guns for the first time. According to domestic violence expert Jacquelyn Campbell, the alarming increase in gun sales over the past few years has been due to not only mental health issues caused by COVID-19, but also the weak awareness of the community’s safety from manufacturers. Currently, US lawmakers are putting greater pressure on gun manufacturers.

According to an investigation by the US House Committee on Oversight and Reform, gun manufacturers in the US have "pocketed" more than a billion dollars over the past 10 years by selling military-style assault rifles. Chairman of the US House of Representatives Oversight and Reform Committee, Carolyn Maloney, said the gun industry has been affecting residential areas, schools, and even churches and synagogues.

He also noted that gun manufacturers were not responsible when doing business based on people's lives, especially selling guns to young people and ignoring gun-related violence incidents. Democrats are calling for the repeal of gun manufacturers' immunity from lawsuits to hold them liable for deadly mass shootings.

US President Joe Biden has pledged to continue fighting to end the "pandemic" of gun violence and acknowledged that there is still a lot of work for US officials to do. With the increasing frequency of shootings, the American people have to live with constant anxiety about the danger lurking around them. Therefore, putting people's safety first to address gun violence is the common responsibility of the US authorities.

Translated by NDO