The UK, Australia, Japan and Germany have all taken measures to reduce gun homicides. Can the US learn anything from them?
Thirty people will be shot dead in America today. On average. It could be more. If it’s less, then more will die tomorrow. Or the next day.
The United States’s gun homicide rate is 25 times higher than other high-income countries, according to a recent study.
Americans are divided on whether the country’s gun deaths could be reduced through tougher laws on gun ownership. Liberals argue that legal restrictions on gun ownership could save lives. Conservatives say that tougher gun laws would do nothing to change the behaviour of violent criminals.
Even the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting that left 20 first-graders dead was not enough to convince American lawmakers to pass new gun control laws, with many people seeing the ownership of guns as a crucial check on government tyranny. The country’s highest court has ruled that outright bans on civilian ownership of handguns are unconstitutional.
After similar mass shootings, other countries have taken more dramatic steps to regulate gun ownership. A look at four countries show that tougher gun laws have been central to these efforts, but that enforcement and culture may also play important roles in preventing violence.
From the moment 43-year-old Thomas Hamilton unloaded his legally held arsenal of handguns on children and staff at Dunblane primary school on 13 March 1996, gun control was on the cards.
Nothing like Dunblane – a massacre of 16 five- and six-year-olds, along with the teacher who tried to protect them – had taken place before in Britain. The shock and collective grief of the whole nation resonated from the northernmost point of Scotland to the tip of Cornwall. This was not the United States, where by 1996, classroom shootings had occurred in many places including Nashville, San Diego and South Carolina.