The price of an American life


Photo courtesy of Flickr user Fibonacci Blue.

AP Howell, Contributing Writer

In today’s world, it seems like a majority of the news that we hear about is related to gun violence in some way; a school or mass shooting, police brutality, a hate crime, etc. These are events that we cannot seem to escape no matter how hard we try, and government legislation appears to be missing the mark when addressing this issue.

Most recently, in June of 2022, the Senate’s Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was signed into law with the purpose of expanding background check requirements, expanding access to better and more affordable mental health services and promoting greater safety in schools. While this is a great initiative in terms of the funding it provides for these initiatives, it has done little to stave off school and other mass shootings in American communities.

According to data collected by the Washington Post, “there were more school shootings in 2022 – 46 – than in any year since…1999,” and there have been 16 so far this year.

Furthermore, Congress will be debating at least two more pieces of gun violence legislation this year with the first being the Protecting Our Kids Act. This bill was introduced in May 2022 with the purpose of increasing the age required to buy firearms, preventing gun trafficking and modernizing the prohibition of untraceable firearms among other things.

Currently, the bill is awaiting debate in the Senate where it has been stalled since June 2022. The second and most recent piece of legislation to be introduced is the Gun Violence Reduction Resources Act of 2023. This legislation, introduced in January of this year, would allow the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to hire 200 more agents in order to better enforce gun laws in the United States. These critical pieces of legislation are needed now more than ever as there have been 377 school shootings since 1999, with about 41 percent of those occurring in 2018 or later according to the Washington Post. 

In any of these situations, it is imperative that we stop and think about the price we are putting on human lives by holding back on necessary legislation. Based on 2022 figures from Hunting Mark, “the average handgun will cost between $400-$800.”

Data from Statista shows that, in more than 55 percent of mass shootings that have taken place in the United States since 1982, handguns were the weapon of choice.

In other words, America is putting the value of the average American life at roughly $600 simply by doing nothing at all. In a country that is so set on preserving life, we are certainly doing everything we can to preserve the thing that is often used to take it away.

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