Contribution by Tiphaine Corvec,
3rd-year student in International Management Bachelor.
“I am concerned by the safety of the next generations, not only in the United States, but all around the world. The United States are just one example of a government failing to protect its population, especially its youth.”


The United States is the only country with more guns than inhabitants: 326 million inhabitants, 393 million guns. As the graph below shows, in 2008 the number of civilian firearms in the U.S. overtook the number of inhabitants; today, there are around 120.5 guns for 100 Americans. In 2017, even if Americans only represented 4% of the world’s population, they owned around 46% of the global stock of firearms.

All this because of – or thanks to (depending on the different points of view) – the Second Amendment of the US constitution, which reads: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Ratified in 1791, this short amendment allows the purchase and free movement of firearms across the country. Anyone who wants a gun can get one with little or no control. In view of recent events, this amendment has often been questioned in the public debate about whether or not it has a responsibility in the numerous mass shootings that have happened over the last decades.

The Constitution is the supreme law of the country and is the source of all government powers. It also imposes important limitations on the government with the aim of protecting the fundamental rights of United States citizens.

Initially, the constitution was signed by 39 of the 55 delegates (a delegate is a person who is chosen to vote or make decisions on behalf of a group of other people in a political assembly in the US) on July 17, 1787.

James Madison, which later became the fourth president of the United States from 1809 to 1817, introduced 12 amendments to the First Congress in 1789. Ten of these became what we now consider to be the Bill of Rights, which the Second Amendment is part of. For the two others, one has never been ratified and the second was ratified in May 1992 and is now known as the 27th amendment of the Constitution. The seventeen others were ratified between 1795 and 1992.

As of October 27, 2019, on the 300th day of the year, 346 mass killings have occurred in the United States, more than one per day. The two most deadly mass shootings of 2019, El Paso and Dayton caused 31 deaths and about 50 injured. These two mass murders took place within less than 24 hours and awakened the debate on the legitimacy of the Second Amendment, again.

On one side, there are the pro-guns, for whom regulating the carrying of firearms means violating their freedom. On their side is the NRA and other allies in the gun lobby. The National Rifle Association is the longest-standing civil rights organization. With more than five million members, they describe themselves as “defenders of history’s patriots and diligent protectors of the Second Amendment”. The NRA is known to have a certain degree of control over politicians, especially the Republican party, including president Trump, thus, policy-makers are not likely to pass or even consider establishing a legislation on gun ownership.

The NRA and its followers even managed to change the meaning of the Second Amendment. In fact, when it was ratified, politicians and academics stated that it meant that the right to bear firearms was a privilege reserved for people belonging to a state Militia; but in the 1970’s, the NRA managed to change the public and political opinion into thinking that the Second Amendment gave the right to every American citizen (of legal age) to buy and bear arms.

On the other side, there are those who would like a more controlled gun policy. On this side, the “March for Our Lives” (MFOL) stands out. It was created after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that killed 17 young people and injured 17 others in Parkland (Florida). It is led by the youth, students who suffered those shootings, and who now “advocate and want to pass legislation to raise the national standard for gun ownership: a national licensing and registry system that promotes responsible gun ownership; a ban on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and other weapons of war; policies to disarm gun owners who pose a risk to themselves or others.” On the 24th of March 2018, hundreds of thousands of people all around the world protested against gun violence. The biggest rally took place in Washington DC, led by survivors of the Parkland shooting and other survivors. Emma Gonzalez, a survivor and student activist, held a powerful speech in memory of her friends, marking the 6 minutes and 20 seconds it took the killer to carry out his deadly attack. .

I agree with the MFOL Movement that guns should be more controlled. The lack of control in the sale of guns is an important factor concerning the number of deaths by firearms; and not only during mass killings. According to Everytown, an association against gun violence, almost 2/3 of firearm homicides are suicides, which represents 22,000 people per year including more than 1,000 children and teenagers. In total, gun violence is at the origin of 31,686 deaths since the beginning of 2019; whether they are homicides, unintentional killings, suicides or mass shootings.

To compare and to better understand how horrific those numbers are, we can take a look at France’s number of deaths per firearms. In 2013, there have been 2,65 deaths per firearms per 100,000 inhabitants in France, whereas in the USA, the rate of deaths per firearms was 10,63. This huge difference – four times more per capita – can be explained by the fact that France has strict gun control regulations compared to the USA.

However, despite the steady increase in firearm deaths, the government of the USA has made no changes to the Second Amendment. Given the ease with which the NRA has managed to change the meaning of the Second Amendment, the government would have the power to restore its “true” meaning or introduce legislations. More and more people in the United States are starting to agree that there should be stricter laws about gun ownership. Establishing some control over guns could save thousands of lives, but most Americans are still really attached to their right to buy and bear arms, so it is not so easy for politicians to change the meaning or redefine the Second Amendment. Before establishing stricter gun control regulations, I believe the first thing that needs to be changed is the mindset of pro-guns Americans, they need to understand that greater regulations do not necessarily means that they will not be able to carry gun ever again.


This student blogpost was produced within the framework of the 3rd-year module “International Issues and Challenges” of ESSCA’s Bachelor in International Management, following a course design developed by the EU-Asia Institute. The opinions expressed are of course those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the institute.

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