What do you know about America’s Gun Debate?

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There was a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people died in this unfortunate attack on February 14, 2018. The 19-year-old shooter was a former student of the school. He used an assault rifle which is a military-style rifle.

This sad incident has sparked a massive youth movement. Students around the country have planned protests and spoken out about gun laws.


What are US gun laws?

It is fairly easy to buy a firearm in the US compared to most other countries in the world.

The Constitution of a country outlines the rights of its citizens. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives Americans the right to “keep and bear arms.” In the past, the U.S. Supreme Court has passed two landmark judgments supporting this right. These judgments allow any person the right to own a gun for personal use and self-defense. Thus under the law, any person over 18 years with no past criminal record can purchase arms.


What is the gun ownership rate (how many guns for every 100 people) in America?

Correct! Wrong!

88 guns for every 100 people is the gun ownership rate in the US. It is the highest by far in the world, according to the UN office on drugs and crime. The No 2 country, Yemen has 54 guns per 100 people.


This easy availability of guns has led to a shocking number of gun violence crimes in the US. It is reported that the total number of people shot in the US in 2017 was close to 100,000. 

Americans are now speaking out. Perhaps people are finally tired of hearing about kids and adults being shot at with military-style weapons. They are demanding some gun control measures such as:

  • increase the minimum age to buy guns from 18 years to 21 years
  • introduce universal background checks to stop firearms falling into the wrong hands such as people with links to terrorist organizations, gang members or people suffering from mental illnesses
  • a ban on military-style assault rifles

Gun control activists are asking for what they believe is common sense gun control but not everyone wants to change gun laws. Some say that guns are important for self-defense, sporting activities, and hunting. 

One such powerful organization is The National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA was formed in 1871 to promote shooting sports. Over the years the organization has grown and has been actively lobbying for no gun control. The NRA now represents the entire gun industry and it is in their interest for more and more guns to be sold in the US.

They believe that gun violence will not decrease with gun control laws – they say “bans do nothing but infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens.”  Through successful lobbying and funding of US politicians, the NRA has so far succeeded in preventing meaningful gun control laws to be implemented.

So what next?

The Florida incident has mounted pressure on leaders to bring in change. 

For the first time, two major US retailers, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart, have announced restrictions on gun sales. They will no longer sell assault-style rifles and have increased the minimum buying age to 21. Several other companies are also cutting ties with the NRA.

President Trump and other senators have met with students and parents from the Parkland High School.  President Trump has also met with lawmakers and the NRA to discuss gun control measures.

Are you wondering about gun control measures in other countries?

Gun control laws differ around the world. Most countries are making it harder for people to buy guns.

Australia recently ran a gun amnesty program. This program urged civilians to turn in illegal guns without paying a penalty. The government was successful in collecting 57,000 illegal firearms.

United Kingdom has gradually banned the access to many firearms over the years. The government is also running a temporary gun buyback program to take tens of thousands of illegal and unwanted guns out of the market.

India has one of the strictest gun laws in the world. The law prohibits the manufacture, transport, sale, possession of firearms unless the user can obtain a license from the government.

Not surprisingly, the countries with the strictest gun control laws have far fewer deaths than countries like the US. Will the latest Florida school shooting force politicians to pass strict gun control laws? Or will the NRA prevail again?


Shruti Divecha was a graphic and textile designer by profession till her curiosity filled daughter pulled out the writer inside her. She writes stories, GK nuggets and teaches recycled crafts to children.

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