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  • Writer's pictureOvith Thiyagalingam

Gun Violence in the United States

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

This article discusses themes of gun violence and may be triggering for some readers.

“The US government is prioritizing gun ownership over basic human rights. Despite the huge number of guns in circulation and the sheer numbers of people killed by guns each year, there is a shocking lack of federal regulations that could save thousands.”

– Margaret Huang, Former Executive Director of Amnesty International USA

Gun Violence in the United States

Gun violence is a human rights crisis, with the United States (U.S.) government’s failure to enact effective gun control laws resulting in the violation of citizens’ human rights in the country. Over 39,000 people are killed and 116,000 injured each year in the U.S. due to widespread access to deadly firearms. U.S. gun violence also disproportionately affects racialized people, and particularly Black youth.

The prioritization of gun ownership consequentially lends itself to higher rates of gun violence and contrasts with fundamental human rights principles. All individuals must be able to go about daily life in security and dignity, and live free from fear, violence, and discrimination.

In the U.S., the ongoing gun violence and lack of gun control laws are denying people their human and civil rights to life, security, and to live free of fear of violence.

Government Obligation to Act

The U.S. government has signed and ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. As such, the U.S. government holds a duty to protect the rights enshrined in these international human rights frameworks, including the rights to life and security. Effective steps must be taken by the U.S. government to address the threat to the lives of U.S. inhabitants by gun violence as well as the disproportionate impact on racialized people.

The Canadian government and federal policymakers must also be accountable in collaborating with their neighbours across the border to tackle the pressing issue and fulfil their responsibility to protect the human rights of all people everywhere.

Student Action

Students and youth who are engaged in the world around them can create transformational change both individually and through their mobilization for collective action.

Youth can reach out to locally elected government officials to pose concerns about gun violence in the U.S., raising awareness to the issue and sparking more conversations between government officials higher up the political chain. Through increased pressure on federal policymakers in Canada to address U.S. gun violence, the Canadian government will be further incentivized to collaborate with the other signatories of global human rights treaties and international human rights organizations to collectively hold the U.S. accountable for its human rights violations.

Discuss the human rights impacts of gun violence with friends, family, peers, and colleagues to continue spreading the word about the issue and the importance of creating solutions grounded in policy and law.

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