The United States has only five percent of the world’s population, but somewhere between 35 and 50 percent of the world’s privately owned guns. Is it a surprise, then, that we have significantly higher rates of gun violence?
According to research published by the National Institutes of Health, homicide rates in the U.S. are 6.9 times higher than they are in other high-income nations. For 15- to 24-year-olds, the homicide rate is 42.7 times higher. Firearm suicide rates are 5.8 times higher in America than in other countries, even though the overall suicide rates are 30 percent lower.
A succession of high-profile massacres–Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook–has taken place against a baseline of daily gun deaths that rarely make the national headlines: murders, suicides, accidental killings. Since the December 14 mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 20 children and six adults were gunned down by a heavily armed man, there have been well over 3,300 gun-related deaths in America. If current trends continue, gun deaths are projected to exceed traffic deaths for the first time by the year 2015.
So what is being done? At the federal level, nothing.
Earlier this month the Senate not only struck down legislation to ban assault weapons and high-capacity gun magazines, it also struck down–at the will of a 45-member minority–a bipartison compromise to expand background checks for gun buyers, a measure supported by 90 percent of the American people.
In response to the paralysis (some would say cowardice) on Capitol Hill, a group of 23 prominent cartoonists, including Garry Trudeau, Ruben Bolling, Art Spiegelman and Tom Tomorrow, have joined forces to fight back against the gun lobby. The cartoon (above) was organized by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and is narrated by actors Julianne Moore and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
“Enough. Demand action,” say Moore and Hoffman. “As a dad, as a mom, as a husband, as a wife, as a family, as a friend. As an American. It’s time. We can’t back down. It’s time for our leaders to act right now. Demand action”