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Gun violence in US growing at an alarming rate

By Taslima Hyat | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-01-11 09:08

People gather during a rally decrying rising gun violence while urging politicians to take action in Washington, DC, June 11, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

A young Bangladeshi man in the US was gunned down by the police in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Bangladesh Association of New England organized protests outside the Cambridge City Hall on Thursday, condemning the "brutal killing" of 20-year-old Sayed Faisal, a student of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

They described the death of Faisal, the only child of his family, as a "racist incident by white police officers". "This is not acceptable in any meaning," the association said in a Facebook post. It said members of the association would meet with Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqi to look for an explanation. "We need to bring justice for this young brother. Police brutality needs to stop."

Guns are deeply ingrained in American society. Integrated into the fabric of American society since the country's earliest days, guns remain a point of pride for many Americans. Whether for hunting, sport shooting or personal protection, most gun owners count the right to bear arms as central to their freedom. At the same time, the results of gun-related violence have shaken the entire nation. As gun violence in the United States grows at an alarming rate, survey finds that the United States is the only nation in the world where civilian guns outnumber people. For the most ardent gun rights advocates, gun violence – as horrible as it is – is an acceptable price of that freedom.

According to press reports, every year gun violence kills nearly 45,000 people in the US. In the latest terrible incident, a six-year-old student shot and wounded a teacher at his school in Virginia during an altercation inside a first-grade classroom.

In the US, firearms purchasers virtually face no legal restrictions to buy those. Any individual, whether sane or not, can buy guns without any background check, resulting in the spate of gun violence in the country that preaches human rights without practicing it in reality in its own land. It frequently engages in slandering other countries over human rights situations that tantamount to double standards and hypocrisy. The US should immediately cease making irresponsible remarks, attacking other countries' human rights situations. It should oil its own machines before doing so. Restricting legal gun ownership can go a long way in improving the current situation.

It is yet to be known how does a first-grader possess a gun? The state authorities must have to ensure that guns are handled and stored safely. These gaps in the law also create risks for all US communities vulnerable to gun violence. In the US, guns are used like toys. Gun culture should be controlled through proper restrictions.

The consequences of gun violence are more pervasive that affect entire communities, families and children. A large number of US children witnessed the act of gun violence in their homes, schools, or community over the past years. It becomes not just an issue of gun regulation, but also of addressing its impact on children who have been traumatized by such violence. It is time to mitigate the effects of gun violence on children.

Violence in America is so institutionalized that if, in some states, anybody dies of natural causes, in fact, he has died of unnatural death.

In an article in the Washington Post titled "How Gun Violence Shatters Lives, and Our Country's Public Life", Alex Kotlowitz writes: Let me first point out what we already know: It's impossible to think about our nation's gun violence without thinking about the easy availability of guns.

It does seem self-evident that we need to impose some restrictions on guns, restrictions that would make killings and suicides less likely. An assault rifle ban. Or background checks. Or waiting periods for firearm purchases. Or banning the 3D printing of guns. The problem, of course, is that we're so polarized on matters of gun control that it feels almost Sisyphean. Even in the wake of recent massacres in Colorado and Virginia, gun-control advocates in Congress have thrown in the towel. One senator conceded, "The blunt, stark fact is that there simply aren't enough votes."

Today, those who live in the so-called "American Dream" must also have the constant fear that they may pay a price for this dream. Today, every man and woman in America is horrified to see the news of shootings in schools and streets. Every bullet that leaves the barrel of a gun can destroy the dream of an American family. It is American families who have to pay for the boom in the gun market.

Paul Auster in his new book titled "Bloodbath Nation" writes about an epidemic in America; not the COVID epidemic, but the epidemic of violence and murder in his country. Auster wrote this book based on his personal experiences.
Bloodbath Nation focuses on gun violence in America and uses black and white photographs by New York photographer Spencer Ostrander. These photos were taken in the last two years and show more than 30 places that have been the site of 30 shootings in recent years in America.

It was less than an hour into 2022 when the first child was shot. The 14-year-old girl was standing outside watching fireworks in St Louis when a bullet hit her in the arm. 

In the year since, more than 6,000 children and teens were injured or killed in shootings, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive. That's the most in a single year since the database began tracking nine years ago. As the epidemic of gun violence continues to wreak havoc on the nation, here's how shootings affected America's children in 2022.

Facts about gun deaths, injuries in 2022

More than 1,300 teens were killed and nearly 3,800 injured in 2022, according to the archive. More than 300 children (aged 11 and younger) were killed and nearly 700 injured. Those figures include homicides, accidental discharges and more but do not include suicides.

Though the number of children injured and killed by gun violence has remained steady in recent years, the number of teens has been rising each year since at least 2019, according to the archive.

A decade since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, took the lives of 20 first-graders and six staff members, dozens of kids were killed at school, and there was a record number of shootings on school grounds.

Some of you may be astonished to see the title above. But it's a bitter truth that the government of the United States of America is responsible for multiple human rights violations. However, it is often claimed that protecting human rights was a foundation in establishing the US. However, it is also mostly cited in political and international relations discourse that after the World War II, the US used its status as a world power to promote the idea of universal human rights. Unfortunately, still, several international human rights watchdogs have blamed the US government for not addressing the incidents of rights violations. For example, the right to peaceful protest is a core component of the right to assemble peacefully, but the successive governments of the US often violated the right to freedom of assembly to suppress dissent and critical voices. It is also reported that peaceful protesters are often subject to arrest, violence, threats, or intimidation in many circumstances.

The United States government has failed to protect people from the persistent gun violence that continues to violate their human rights, including the right to life, liberty, personal security, freedom from discrimination, torture and degrading treatment, and so on. However, the US Congress did not pass any regulations on access to firearms.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the surging gun sales, unfettered access to weapons, lack of all-encompassing gun safety laws, and a failure to invest in meaningful gun violence prevention continued this violence. According to an Amnesty International report, at least 44,000 people were estimated to have been killed by gun violence in 2020. In addition, some state government authorities exacerbated gun violence During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 by designating gun stores as "essential businesses".

Taslima Hyat is a a freelance journalist and researcher. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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