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In 2019, mass shootings have not been far from the headlines in the United States, with 27 shootings reported since the beginning of the year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. In a country with a disproportionate share of the world's guns - the US accounts for 5% of the world's population and 45% of privately owned firearms - gun rights advocates leverage a myriad of facts to moderate calls for stricter gun laws:

  • The assault rate in the United States is lower than in other developed countries and actually decreased in 2017 by nearly 250,000 incidents.
  • Likewise, the number of murders committed in 2017 decreased by slightly more than 6,000 people.
  • Most crimes are also committed by illegally obtained guns that are by definition beyond the reach of the legal firearm retail industry that's targeted by some policy prescriptions.

Policymakers in the US must sift through contradictory and emotionally charged "data" to support effective regulation that ensures public safety while also preserving Americans' constitutional right to bear arms. Measures such as strengthening background checks for gun buyers, banning bump stocks, and raising the age to purchase a firearm to 21 remain on the table as policy options.

  • What would serve all interests, would be to remove from public discourse obviously distracting claims pinning such violence to video games, for example. China - the leader in video game development and revenues - is certainly neither experiencing a similar increase in mass shootings or violent murders. 
  • Likewise, the argument that some mass shootings and other crimes are prevented if the would-be victim is armed carries more emotional weight than it does verifiable fact as its impossible to prove the counterfactual. What if the shooter had been knocked out or otherwise immobilized, would a gun have been required?

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