From the Pacific to the Atlantic, there are 310 million guns in Americans, some being handled by children still in elementary school. With a population of a little more than 314 million, there are enough guns in America to allocate one firearm for every man, woman and child.
To load those weapons, the country has a hefty number of bullets, and a surplus of bullet-inflicted mortalities. America’s steady tally of gun-violence fatalities should have earmarked the subject as a high-priority topic, but discussion of firearm issues was nonexistent in the 2012 presidential debates.
Click through the gallery for six views of the country’s most-dangerous consumer items, photos that speak volumes about the candidates’ silence concerning gun laws.
Photo: Cavan Images/Getty Images
Billions of Dollars for Guns in America
Guns in America are big business, generating more than $31 billion of revenue per year. With 4 million members, the National Rifle Association is the largest firearm organization in the country. In the photo above, attendees of the NRA’s 141st Annual Meetings & Exhibits in St. Louis, Missouri, examine weapons. The members of the organization contribute $205 million annually, much of it to state and national politicians, with $895,897 going to the salary of the NRA’s CEO, Wayne LaPierre.
Photo: Tom Gannam/Reuters
Vote. Win a Rifle.
For the 2012 Election season, a store in Georgia promoted firearm possession with billboards saying, “Vote. Win a rifle.” This Glock handgun available in a raffle promotion is shown at Adventures Outdoors in Smyrna, Georgia. Though the store’s billboards urged visitors to vote, owner Jay Wallace stated that all Georgia residents—voters or not—are eligible to enter. Homicide shootings are a daily news occurrence, but there appears to be little corresponding media attention on efforts to reduce or stop gun violence in America.
Photo: Tami Chappell/Reuters
The Not-So-Jolly Side of Owning Guns in America
One thing the holidays need is a distraction from the disheartening rate of gun-related deaths in Arizona. The state is ranked second worst state for firearm fatalities. Todd Engle and Mary Rose Engle pose with weapons and a man dressed as Santa Claus for a photograph at the Scottsdale Gun Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. In a span of 10 years, nearly 1,000 children under the age of 18 died in gun-related tragedies in Arizona, and that’s no ho-ho-ho matter.
Photo: Joshua Lott/Reuters
Underage firearm use is widely prevalent in America today. Although the minimum age to own a handgun or rifle in Alabama is 18, parents still teach their children how to use firearms. At Great Southern Outdoors Wildlife Plantation in Union Springs, Alabama, Jeremy Chavez helps his son Ryan, 6, with target practice before a wild hog hunt. According to a study conducted at Princeton University, more than 20,000 children and youth under age 20 are killed or injured by firearms in the United States every year. It is unclear if familiarizing children with lethal weapons negatively or positively impacts that number.
Photo: Michael Spooneybarger/Reuters
A Boy's Right to Defend His Home
In seven years, 11-year-old Harrison Atwood will have clearance to possess the Trijicon-scope equipped rifle he tests at the Safari Club International Convention in Reno, Nevada. Compared to a handful of states in the country, Nevada has a strong castle law, allowing homeowners to exercise lethal force to protect their homes against intruders. However, the laws in Nevada are not as strong as those in Florida, where campers are empowered to shoot suspicious characters near their tents.
Photo: Max Whittaker/Reuters
Wear Your Gun on Your Hip
Conversations about guns in America were mysteriously left out in the 2012 Elections. Neither presidential candidate shared his thoughts on the topic, but advances are still being made in state gun laws, although advancing in a direction that may further rather than curtail gun violence. On November 1, 2012, a law took effect allowing all Oklahomans with concealed weapon licenses to carry their firearms openly in a holster. In the photo above, Morgan Meritt of Del City, Oklahoma, joins other members of the Oklahoma Open Carry Association in wearing unconcealed side arms as they gather at Beverly’s Pancake House in Oklahoma City.
Christina previously worked in production and publicity at Red Hen Press in Los Angeles. She studied modern literature and linguistics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She enjoys writing about health, culture, food, and the environment for various print and online publications. Email Christina | @christinakhar