Gun violence in the USA is a human rights crisis. In 2016, an average of 106 individuals died per day from firearm related deaths. Per capita, this is significantly higher than in other industrialized countries. In fact, the USA has both the highest absolute and highest per capita rates of gun ownership in the world, yet the USA does not sufficiently restrict access to firearms to those most at risk of abusing them. There is no uniform system to track firearm owners. The USA has not taken effective steps to implement violence reduction, prevention or protection measures where gun violence persists and has not adequately addressed firearm violence as a public health issue, failing to invest in research on the impact of firearms in the USA to inform effective policy solutions. The right to live free from violence, discrimination and fear has been superseded by a sense of entitlement to own a practically unlimited array of deadly weapons, without sufficient regulations on their acquisition, possession and use. In the face of clear evidence of persistent firearm violence, high rates of gun ownership, and ease of access to firearms by individuals likely to misuse them, the USA is failing to meet its obligation to protect and promote human rights pursuant to international law.
Amnesty International’s report is a critical assessment of existing data and research related to the scope of gun violence in the USA, and an analysis of US laws and policies - where they exist - governing the acquisition, possession and use of firearms by private individuals, in the context of international human rights laws and standards. In this report, Amnesty International defines the term “gun violence” broadly, encompassing interpersonal and communitywide violence using firearms; implicit threats of violence that firearms represent in certain circumstances; misuse of firearms in the home; and acts of self-harm by firearms, including accidents and suicide. Amnesty International provides a clear set of recommendations, developed under the human rights framework in the context of firearms violence, that the USA must adopt to address this crisis.