In the US, the gun is a talisman of rugged virtue in the face of a changing world

A cardboard cut-out of US President Donald Trump stands in front of a large banner that reads "Come And Take It," during a pro-gun rally on the sidelines of the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual meeting in Dallas, Texas, US, May 5, 2018(Bloomberg) Even though I live and have grown up in the United States, I remain a perplexed outsider when it comes to one of the defining features of American culture: its obsession with guns. According to the Small Arms Survey, 48% of the supposedly 650 million privately-owned guns in the world are in the United States. For every 100 Americans, there are 89 guns. (At 46 million weapons, India has the second largest stockpile of private guns, but it ranks a lowly 107th in the world in terms of guns per capita.) A more recent study suggests there are now more private guns than people in America. Those numbers are imprecise in part because guns are so loosely controlled in the United States. The “epidemic” of school shootings in this country continues unabated, most recently in Noblesville, Indiana, on May 25. Every shooting leads to a similar debate, pitting advocates for gun control against those who demand gun rights. But empirically, there are no grounds for debate. After mass shootings in Switzerland, Australia, and Germany, tighter gun laws and outright bans on guns have seen precipitous falls in the numbers of such episodes. Other countries share the American love for violent video games and have similar failures […]

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