How many guns are there in the US?

USA: Why guns are so common in the USA

Sad record: the US population owns more firearms than any other country in the world. An estimated 300 million pistols and rifles lie there in houses and apartments. Why can almost every American buy a gun? And how dangerous is that? We answer five important questions about this topic

Why do so many people in the US have guns?

The United States has about as many residents as there are private firearms. Many people use them to practice at shooting ranges or to go hunting - both of which are very popular in the United States. Some also buy a weapon because they want to use it to defend themselves and their property.

To understand this, you have to know the history of the country: After the founding of the USA in 1789, a list of basic rights for all citizens was created. Including: the right to own and carry a weapon. Back then, more than 200 years ago, many people mistrusted the state and believed that they had to protect themselves from dangers. Even if a lot has changed since then, this attitude is still widespread. Many Americans do not want their basic rights to be taken away from them.

Who can buy a gun - and where?

Firearms are very easy to come by in the United States, and in some places you can even buy them in the supermarket. Also, there are almost five times more gun shops than McDonald’s restaurants across the country. Adults who show their ID or driver's license are allowed to shop in such a shop: pistols, ammunition, even automatic rapid-fire rifles.

Americans often don't even need an ID at gun shows. There are also weapons in bright colors or with painted cartoon characters, with which the manufacturers want to get children excited about shooting. All of this would be unthinkable in Germany. Only certain people such as hunters or police officers are allowed to have a weapon here.

How dangerous are the many weapons?

Unfortunately, as many people die from firearms in the USA as in hardly any other country in the world: every year there is an average of 30,000 inhabitants - that corresponds to the population of a medium-sized city! Again and again there are targeted attacks in which perpetrators fire at groups of people.

It was not until February of this year that there was another rampage: A 19-year-old stormed a school in Parkland, Florida and shot 14 students and three adults. In addition to such acts of violence, there are also often accidents with weapons: sometimes children, for example, find unsecured pistols and accidentally shoot themselves or others.

Why aren't politicians doing anything about it?

Some have tried, including former President Barack Obama. After a rampage in 2012, he gave a crying speech and promised to fight for stricter gun laws. But it was unsuccessful because other politicians voted against a change.

Many of them listen to a powerful organization: the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA, with around five million members, campaigns for gun owners in the country. The NRA has a lot of money through membership fees and supports politicians who advocate weapons - such as the current President Donald Trump. She put the equivalent of around 27 million euros into his election campaign!

Conversely, the NRA makes politicians who speak out against weapons bad. That is why many of them join the NRA for fear of losing voters.

How is the mood in the population?

The issue of weapons divides the population like no other. Especially people from rural areas do not want to forego their basic rights. They argue: To make the US safer, you need more weapons, not fewer. Nonsense, say other groups and fight for the opposite: After the rampage in Parkland, young people organized nationwide protest marches against weapons.

More than a million Americans took to the streets to show their anger after the crime - one of the largest demonstrations in US history! Even if this is cause for hope for the opponents of arms, the dispute in the country will go on for a long time.

Would you like to learn more about the USA? The GEOlino Extra No. 71 "USA - Between Dream and Reality" is devoted to the vast country in detail.