How to reduce gun violence in a nation of guns

Compared with other high-income countries, the U.S. has more guns and weaker gun laws—fuel for the nation’s gun violence epidemic, according to experts.

“Compared to other peer countries, basically what we have is lots and lots of guns, particularly handguns, and we have by far the weakest gun laws,” said David Hemenway, professor of health policy at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in a November 5, 2021 ABC News article. “I think if we had basically the gun laws of any other developed country, we’d be better off.”

The U.S. has less than 5% of the world’s population but 40% of the world’s civilian-owned guns, according to a 2018 report cited in the ABC News article. The sheer number of guns makes reducing gun violence a challenge. So does the constitutional right to bear arms, the strength of the gun lobby, the federal government’s inability to pass meaningful gun laws, and the patchwork of gun laws at the state level, said experts quoted in the article.

Hemenway, who directs the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, called for more firearms research and data on gun violence. He also recommended measures aimed at living safely with guns, such as safe storage requirements, smart guns that can only be used by their owners, and safety features that prevent guns from firing when dropped or after the magazine is removed.

“Too many people just think gun control means taking away people’s guns,” he said. “There’s just so, so many things that we could do as a country if we wanted to reduce the problem [of gun violence].”

Read the ABC News article: What other countries show us about America’s gun violence epidemic