In the last year we have been horrified by an endless stream of mass murders and questionable police shootings, to the point that it’s almost the new normal—tune in for Shooting Tragedy of the Week. While American homicide rates had been falling steadily since the 1990s, the trend is now starting to reverse.
The greater availability and sheer number of private guns in America is surely part of the story—we account for over 50% of the world’s privately owned guns, just as we account for almost half of global military spending. No other country spends so large a share of its GDP on weapons. One of the few American industries that still leads the world is the manufacture of armaments, and those huge profits ensure a vested interest in keeping the bullets flying.