Texas shooting: US has more gun shops than Starbucks, highlights all-pervasive gun culture

A lone shooter walked into a church in rural Texas, killing 26 people, in what is considered the worst shooting in the history of Texas.

The attack came just five weeks after another lone wolf, Stephen Paddock, killed 58 people during a music festival in Las Vegas: The worst mass shooting in US history.

These two attacks are now among the top 10 mass shootings in the American history. Additionally, five of the 10 largest shootings took place in the last 10 years.

Given that gun ownership is a right enshrined in the US Constitution, the debate over implementing gun control is a deeply divisive issue.

A 2017 Pew survey showed the prevalence of gun culture in the United States.

At least four out of 10 US citizens have lived in a household which has a firearm. Fifty-five percent of those who have never owned a gun have fired one at least once.

While 68 percent of respondents said that they owned a gun for protection, 74 percent of respondents connected gun ownership with a sense of personal freedom.

Gun dealers outnumber Starbucks

The all-pervasive gun culture can perhaps be gauged by an interesting statistic.

A website, saferamerica, has a special category called firearmsandfraps, which compares the number of Starbucks cafés with the number of gun dealers in a particular area.

According to the website, there are six gun dealers for every Starbucks in the United States. There are over 67,747 places where a US citizen can legally acquire a gun.

On the other hand, there are only around 11,000 Starbucks across the country.

In Wilson County, where Sutherland Springs is situated, there are just four Starbucks cafés and 64 gun dealers.

In Las Vegas, the site of the worst mass shooting in US history, the statistic is is not striking but nevertheless important: While there are 58 gun dealers, there are an equal number of Starbucks cafés.

In Newtown, Connecticut, where Adam Lanza killed 20 children at the Sandy Hooks Elementary School, there are 220 gun dealers and just 48 Starbucks cafés.

The data however, does not convincingly conclude that there is any co-relation between mass shootings in an area and the presence of more gun dealers.

Mass shootings: US versus Europe

According to analysis by Mother Jones, since December 2012, there have been 33 major mass shootings in the United States.

Except in the case of Sandy Hook and the San Francisco shootings, the perpetrators held legally-acquired firearms. These shootings killed 309 people and injured over 600.

In contrast, there were only five major shooting incidents in Europe between 2013 and 2015, killing 33 people.

But the number of gun-related incidents in the US are much higher if minor incidents are also included.

According to Gun Violence Archive, an incident where four or more people are shot is classified as a mass shooting.

In 2017, there were a total of 378 gun-related incidents, which killed 531 people.

In the last five years, US has witnessed 1,500 gun-related violent incidents, which claimed over 1900 lives.

Last year was the most violent: The country witnessed over 477 incidents in which 606 people were killed.

However, Europe faced just 35 such incidents in 2016, and only 53 people died.

The US also fares poorly when compared to several high-income European countries.

According to a report in Vox, US witnesses 16 times more firearm homicides than Germany, the largest economy in Europe.

Compared to Ireland, US registers six times more gun-related deaths, and nearly nine times more firearm deaths than Netherlands, which the Flemish Peace Institute in 2015 called the worst-affected country in Europe.

In 2016, 65 percent of all homicides in the US were gun-related killings as opposed to just four percent in the UK.

While the gun debate rages on in the US,  Europe experienced a wave of terror attacks since 2015.

In 2014, only two terror attacks across the continent resulted in five deaths.

In 2013, five such attacks led to six casualties, Global Terrorism Database analysis noted.

According to GTD, the fatalities in terror attacks in Europe rose sharply in 2016, though the number of instances decreased.

“The data shows that there were 30 such attacks resulting in fatalities in western Europe in 2016 and 23 in 2015, a July 2017 Reuters report quoted GTD as saying.

About 26.5 people on average were killed in 2015 and 2016, up from an average of four a year in the preceding three years, Reuters noted.

This year, 10 major terror attacks hit Europe, with four targeting the UK.

Nevertheless, the frequency of terror attacks in Europe along with the death toll seem minuscule compared to this fact: The US witnesses one mass shooting every day.

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

Updated Date: Nov 08, 2017 20:37:39 IST