Mass shootings in the United States, are they directly related to the abundance of weapons?

On the morning of April 12, the New York subway became the new setting for a new shooting in the United Stateswhich has left dozens of wounded and puts – again in the spotlight – the United States as the country with the most weapons and attacks of this type.

A total of 13 people were left with gunshot wounds, of which five are in critical condition, after they were surprised at 8:30 in the morning – like many people who were about to go to work – when A man wearing a gas mask opened fire indiscriminately at the 36 subway station in Brooklyn, New York. Another 19 people were injured, due to the panic that the attack unleashed and the inhalation of gases thrown by the attacker.

The White House announced that it is investigating whether it is a terrorist attack or one more of the shootings that have affected the country for decades, which once again revives the debate on the possession of a weapon. And it is that the United States has the highest per-capita figures in the world of weapons possession. Does this translate into being the country with the most mass shootings?

WHAT ARE MASS SHOOTINGS?

Although there is no exact definition of what a mass shooting is, according to the Archive on Gun Violence, it is called that when four or more people are shot, injured or killed, not including the attacker.

Related  "I'm not a graduate, I'm an engineer": the curious claim of a teacher to her university student

This definition of four people being shot, regardless of whether the event resulted in injuries or deaths, is often used by the press and non-profit organizations. This concept does not include killings between gangs or murders involving several members of the same family.

The New York subway was the scene of a massive shooting in the United States on April 12 (Photo by ANGELA WEISS / AFP)
The New York subway was the scene of a massive shooting in the United States on April 12 (Photo by ANGELA WEISS / AFP)

WHY ARE THERE SO MANY SHOOTINGS IN THE UNITED STATES?

Although each assailant may have a different motive, according to a report published in The New York Times, what may explain why there are so many shootings in the country is the enormous number of weapons in circulation.

Americans are about 4.4% of the world’s population, but own 42% of the world’s weapons. From 1966 to 2012, 31% of mass shooters worldwide were Americans, according to a 2015 study by Adam Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama.

The specialist points out that, according to his research, a country’s rate of gun ownership correlates with the probability of a mass shooting happening. In that sense, he mentions that only 4% of deaths caused by firearms in the United States could be attributed to mental health problems.

HOW MANY GUNS PER INHABITANT ARE THERE IN THE UNITED STATES?

The US, with a population of 319 million, has more weapons than any other country. For every 100 people there are 120 weapons, indicates a study carried out by the Institute of Higher International Studies of the University of Geneva (Switzerland). In Europe the figure reaches 15 weapons for every hundred inhabitants.

WHAT OTHER FACTORS CONTRIBUTE TO SHOOTINGS IN THE UNITED STATES?

In addition to gun ownership, other contributing factors are suggested, albeit to a lesser extent:

  • The greatest accessibility and ownership of weapons. The US has the highest per capita gun ownership in the world with 120.5 firearms per 100 people. The second highest is Yemen with 52.8 firearms per 100 inhabitants
  • Mental illness and its treatment (or lack thereof) with psychiatric drugs. This is controversial. Many of the US mass shooters suffered from mental illness, but the estimated number of cases of mental illness has not increased as significantly as the number of mass shootings.
  • The desire to seek revenge for a long history of bullying.
  • Desire for fame and notoriety.
  • The imitation phenomenon.
  • Government failure to conduct background checks due to incomplete databases and/or staff shortages.
  • The wide gap that exists between people’s expectations for themselves and their actual achievements in modern consumer society, and the individualistic culture promoted by it.

HOW DID SHOOTINGS INCREASE IN NEW YORK?

So far in 2022, more than 360 people have been victims of shootings in New York. In the last two years alone, this type of incident has increased by 72%, according to official data collected by the newspaper La Opinion.

In this sense, the governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, assured that New Yorkers are “tired and fed up” with armed violence and promised to use all available tools to combat it, in collaboration with the city council.