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Human rights mean control of gun culture and violence

China Daily | Updated: 2022-11-25 07:56

FBI chaplain Jim Lilian, with his service dog, Harley, waits for clearance to go inside the store after a mass shooting at a Walmart, late Tuesday night in Chesapeake, Virginia, US November 23, 2022. [Photo/Agecies]

A shooting at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, in the United States late on Tuesday left at least six people dead and some injured, three days after a shooting at a Colorado nightclub left five people dead and 25 injured. The number of mass gun killings in the US has now exceeded 600 for the third year in a row.

Gun violence was a major issue during the recent midterm elections in the US. US President Joe Biden said that gun violence must be tackled, but repeated shootings indicate that the problem is only getting worse.

It is not surprising that deaths from gun violence in the US are far higher than in any other developed country, given that with just 4.2 percent of the world's population, the country has 46 percent of the world's civilian guns.

As of Monday, more than 39,000 people had lost their lives to gun violence in the US this year, data from the Gun Violence Archive show.

The spate of mass shootings across the US has also led to a sharp rise in depression and anxiety among young people. In fact, at least half the number of suicides in the US are reportedly linked to gun violence. Gun violence has also had an impact on the overall atmosphere in US society.

In June, the US Supreme Court gave a ruling overturning a New York state law that restricted people from carrying concealed guns; gun supporters hailed the ruling as a victory.

Opponents believe the ruling is not conducive to dealing with gun violence. Under public pressure, Biden signed a bipartisan compromise gun control bill in June, and the White House announced in July the "Safer America Plan", which would spend $13 billion over five years to hire and train an additional 100,000 police officers.

However, US policymakers are wary of addressing the real issue, such as lax gun control laws, lobbying by interest groups and partisan polarization.

The long-standing gun violence in the US is rooted in its "gun culture", which came after the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, adopted in 1791, was judged to protect the right of citizens to own arms.

Given that the right to life is the most important human right, whether the US can effectively curb gun violence should be an important yardstick for the international community to measure its human rights.

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