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Facts about Americans and guns on the back of Texas shooting

Gun violence in the US has been a subject of concern to the country’s leadership. [File, Standard]

On Tuesday, May 24, an 18-year-old gunman shot and killed 19 people, including pupils, at a primary school in Texas, USA.

Police said they managed to shoot the suspect dead.

Again, the perennial debate on US gun policies remerged on the back of the Texas incident.

 President Joe Biden has condemned the shooting, saying time is ripe to “turn the pain into action”.

Addressing the press at White House, hours after the fatal shooting, Biden touched on the gun ownership debate, saying a lot needs to be done to contain the mass shooting, especially at education centres.

“These kinds of mass shootings rarely happen elsewhere in the world. Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone to have the courage to deal with it?” he said.

Below are some facts about Americans and guns:

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives Americans the right to bear arms, and about a third of US adults say they personally own a gun.

In 2020, the US Census Bureau counted 331.4 million people living in the United States; more than three-quarters (77.9 per cent) or 258.3 million were adults. That means at least 86 million people in the US own guns.

Earlier 2022, President Biden and other policymakers proposed new restrictions on firearm access in an effort to address gun violence, ranging from rising murder rates in some major cities to mass shootings.

According to a 2021 survey by Pew Research Center and Gallup on gun violence in America, there are differences in gun ownership rates by political party affiliation, gender, geography and other factors.

For instance, 44 per cent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they personally own a gun, compared with 20 per cent of Democrats and Democratic- leaners.

The survey also indicates that, men are more likely than women to say they own a gun (39 per cent vs. 22 per cent).

And 41 per cent of adults living in rural areas report owning a firearm, compared with about 29 per cent of those living in the suburbs and two-in-ten living in cities.

Interestingly, Federal data suggests that gun sales have risen in recent years, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Personal protection tops the list of reasons why gun owners say they own a firearm.

According to a Gallup survey conducted in August 2019, gun owners were most likely to cite personal safety or protection as the reason they own a firearm.

Forty (40) per cent of them said they own the weapon for hunting, 11 per cent for nonspecific recreation or sport, five per cent claimed their gun was an antique while five per cent of those interviewed said the gun was related to their line of work.

However, attitudes about gun violence differ widely by race, ethnicity, party and community type. About eight-in-ten Black adults (82 per cent) say gun violence is a very big problem.

Roughly half of Americans (53 per cent) favour stricter gun laws, a decline since 2019, according to the Center’s April 2021 survey. Smaller shares say these laws are about right (32 per cent) or should be less strict (14 per cent).