New report says US gun violence is 'a human rights crisis'

By agency reporter
September 13, 2018

The US government has allowed gun violence in the country to become a human rights crisis, said Amnesty International as it publishes a major new report on the issue.

Amnesty's report – In the Line of Fire: Human Rights and the US Gun Violence Crisis – shows how all aspects of American life have been compromised by the availability of guns in a country lacking proper regulations and safeguards.

While most countries have licensing and regulation systems in place for firearms, the United States lacks measures like a national registration scheme, and 30 states allow handguns to be owned without a licence or permit.

The report examines the ways in which gun violence affects communities of colour, where gun violence is the leading cause of death for men and boys between the ages of 15 and 34, who are 20 times more likely to be killed by a gun than their white counterparts. Women facing domestic violence and children are also disproportionately affected.

In total, in 2016 – the last year for which statistics are available – over 38,000 people were killed and 116,000 suffered non-fatal injuries due to firearms in the United States.

Amnesty is calling for national regulations over licensing and registering firearms to eliminate the current inadequate and arbitrary patchwork of state laws that leave people in some states more vulnerable to gun violence than others. Additionally, Amnesty is calling for:

  • comprehensive background checks
  • mandatory training for gun ownership
  • mandatory safe-storage laws
  • investment in evidence-based community violence reduction and prevention programmes
  • a ban on semi-automatic assault rifles and other military-grade weapons

Amnesty's report notes that while mass shootings have profound emotional and psychological effects and could be prevented by banning assault rifles and high-capacity firearms, such mass events account for fewer than one per cent of overall gun deaths.

Margaret Huang, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, said: "The US government is prioritising gun ownership over basic human rights.

"While many solutions have been offered, there has been a stunning lack of political will to save lives.

"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.

"The ability to go about your daily life in security and dignity, free from fear, is at the very cornerstone of human rights. No-one's human rights can be considered secure as long as our leaders fail to do anything about gun violence."

* Read In the Line of Fire: Human Rights and the US Gun Violence Crisis  here

* Amnesty International https://www.amnesty.org.uk/

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