United States: An armed nation | International
According to the 2021 National Firearm Survey, 32% of the American population reports owning a firearm. The figure is equivalent to more than 18.4 million armed Americans, although only adults over 18 years of age are included.
Despite the armed massacres that have occurred throughout history, the US Constitution presents a major obstacle to its legislation: the Second Constitutional Amendment. “Since a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be restricted.", is the slogan that has been used to defend the arming of civilians in the country.
A growing concern about suicides among active military personnel, the reversal of New York's restrictive laws and a Supreme Court decision against violence exemplify the ramifications of the gun problem in the social life of the United States.
Army mental health
The suicide rate in the United States is 14.1 people per 100,000. Among active military personnel, the number jumps to 24.3 per 100,000, with a greater tendency to use firearms. In September, the US military issued new suicide prevention guidelines, focused on prevention and community care for mental health problems. However, the guidelines have not yet been implemented.
In October, reserve soldier Robert Card committed suicide after killing 18 people with an assault rifle in Lewiston, Maine. Prior to this event, Card had been in psychiatric treatment, suffered from paranoia and warned a friend that he was planning a mass shooting. Both the military and the Maine sheriff's office were alerted to his deteriorating mental health more than five months before the killing.
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The priests who are armed
Last year, New York State passed a law prohibiting the carrying of weapons in “sensitive” locations, including houses of worship. The Rev. Jimmie Hardaway Jr. led a lawsuit to overturn the measure. In May, the law was amended to allow congregation leaders and security personnel to carry weapons again.
The case has legally pitted the second constitutional amendment, on the right to bear arms, with the first amendment, which speaks of the right to profess a religion without fear. After a white supremacist murdered nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, some religious leaders argue that arming themselves is the best way to protect their worshipers.
Armed domestic violence
The Supreme Court is currently considering a decision on whether people can be legally forced to give up their guns before being convicted of a crime. For victims of domestic violence who have obtained restraining orders against their attackers, the question is one of life and death.
Janet Paulsen, who was paralyzed after her husband shot her with a gun and then committed suicide, has tried to pressure Georgia lawmakers to pass measures that would allow police to remove guns from their owners if they are in a family crisis. When Paulsen filed a restraining order against her husband, police confiscated more than 70 guns, but a mix-up in her order allowed him to keep her gun in his truck with which she shot Paulsen.
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