Parkland High School Shooting: Gun statistics in the country make for a grim reading

The mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School claimed 17 lives and brought back the demands for stricter gun regulations. Will this shooting be any different?


                            Parkland High School Shooting: Gun statistics in the country make for a grim reading

The tragic shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has so far claimed the lives of 17 innocent people and injured many more. The shooter, 19-year-old former student of the high school Nikolas Cruz, was said to have been wielding an 'AR-style semiautomatic rifle' and reportedly had 'countless magazines' with him.

The shooting marks the 18th mass shooting in 2018 alone and the eighth mass shooting which has resulted in either injury or a loss of life. It is also the second deadliest school shooting in the country's history, behind only the Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting in Connecticut in 2012.

The shooting is the 18th such mass shooting this year (Source: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The horrific shooting comes just four months after the Las Vegas massacre, in which lone gunman Stephen Paddock mercilessly shot down and killed 58 people and injured a further 515 at the Route 91 music festival on October 1st; that incident was the deadliest such event in the country's history.

After every such mass shooting which results in a heavy loss of life, questions about the country's lax gun regulations are brought to light. Accusations from one side claim that had there been stricter gun control, then such a shooting may have never taken place, while the counter argument claims that it's not the guns, but the person.

While there is an initial outcry about the nation's gun regulations, it eventually dies down to be forgotten, i.e., until another such mass shooting takes place and the vicious cycle repeats itself. To rub salt into the wounds, such tragedies are profitable for gunmakers, who see a rise in their stock after shootings because of the predictable rush of people who stock up on their weapons fearing the enactment of stricter laws.

Gun companies' stocks went up after the Las Vegas shooting (Source: CNBC)

Such was the case after the Las Vegas mass shooting, with the share prices of gun companies such as Sturm Ruger, American Outdoor Brands (Smith & Wesson) rising by 4.7% and 4.5% respectively. It was also a similar story after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, and it would be little surprise to see more of the same after this shooting.

According to Market Watch, this was after American Outdoor sales had fallen by 38% in the quarter before the shooting. Sales had similarly declined by 22% at Sturm Ruger, and 10% at Vista Outdoor.

Sales went up during Obama's presidency (Source: City-Data)

During President Barack Obama's reign, the NRA frequently ran ads claiming that he would take people's guns away, resulting in massive spikes in gun sales. Despite being relatively sympathetic to gun control, handgun sales during his reign rose by a whopping 287%, and shotgun sales by 166%.

According to the American constitution, "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed" and Americans take their second amendment very seriously. According to Statista, there are approximately 83 privately-owned firearms for every 100 people in the country, making the US the most heavily armed civilian population in the world.

America's gun numbers make for an alarming read 

America has 323 million people, which is about 4.4% of the world's population. However, its civilians own a combined total of more than 664 million guns, which accounts for almost half of the civilian-owned guns around the world. Statista claims that in 2016, 42% of American households owned one or more gun.

Do guns kill people or do people kill people?

Various statistics also show that guns enable violence. Take, for example, all the fatal suicide attempts that took place in Indiana between 1990 and 1997. Just 5.1% of those who attempted to cut themselves died, with that percentage a little higher at 7.4% for those who tried to poison themselves. However, that number rises to 96.5% for those that shot themselves to take their life.

States with more guns see more firearm-related suicides

A corollary of the aforementioned point is that those states that have the most residents with guns also report the number of suicides. Statistics taken between 2001 and 2005 show that the states with the highest rates of gun ownership had close to 17,000 firearm suicides, with that number a little over 4,000 for states with the lowest rates of gun ownership; a decrease of almost 75%.

The rate of firearm homicides in the country 

This also means that the country has one of the highest firearm homicides in the world. America has six times as many firearm homicides as Canada, and nearly 16 times as many as Germany. Australia, which about strict gun control regulations after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 now has about 1.4 homicides by firearm per 1 million people. For the US, that number is 29.7.

Despite the apparent increase in the number of mass shootings over the years, polling by Gallup shows that the public's opinion on the issue has drastically shifted over the years and that a majority now oppose a ban on handguns.

Campaign and lobbying spend of the NRA and its affiliates between 1998 and 2017 (Source: Center for Responsive Politics)

There is little that lawmakers can do to bring about stricter regulation as well, especially considering how much lobbying power and sway the National Rifle Association (NRA) holds. One in five US gun owners are members of the NRA and it has strong support from numerous Republican-leaning gun owners.

While the organization has spent a paltry $3.5 million on lobbying efforts since 1998, it has spent $144 million on 'independent expenditures,' which involve campaign ads to either advocate the election of or defeat of a candidate in the same time frame.

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