America Must Systematically Improve Its Human Rights Situation

America has a plethora of human rights issues. For a long time, several important aspects of the human rights of American citizens have been subject to systematic infringement. There is a serious flaw in the American system of government: Political donations have a huge influence on the electoral process, infringing on the political power of the American citizen. The American legal system has placed over a million people in prison, yielding more prisoners in America than anywhere else in the world and greatly restricting the freedom of the American citizen. Among developed nations, America is home to one of the largest gaps between rich and poor. Every day, the American economic system creates greater polarization. A handful of people are extremely rich, many of the poor are homeless and the income of middle class families decreases yearly. American racism is a deeply-rooted issue; its origins go back many years. Racial equality is still just a slogan on paper. In truth, racial minorities are not able to enjoy equal rights. America uses military force to carry out its foreign policy and makes planned, continual, large-scale infringements upon the sovereignty and human rights of other nations, causing humanitarian disaster. America’s human rights issues are not specific, accidental incidents, but rather a widespread, systemic phenomenon with deep institutional roots. The violence and casualties caused by guns in America are an archetypal example of this.

America is one of the few countries in the entire world that permits private individuals to own guns. The number of gun owners in America is huge and unceasingly increasing. In 1999, private American citizens owned 235 million guns; by 2012, that number had increased to 270 million. Americans own between 35 and 50 percent of guns owned by civilians worldwide. Forty-seven percent of adult Americans own guns. This huge number of guns has made America a country of frequent shootings and numerous gun-related casualties. Every year, America is home to more than 30,000 gun-related deaths — homicides, accidents and suicides — and more than 200,000 people sustain injuries from guns. In movie theaters, school campuses and other locations with high concentrations of people, shootings often result in serious casualties. America’s gun violence problem seriously infringes upon its citizens’ right to life.

The crux of America’s problem with gun violence and gun-related casualties lies in its laws and institutional regulations. Gun violence infringing on the right to life represents the epitome of America’s human rights issues. The majority of America’s human rights issues have systemic origins. In order to improve America’s human rights situation, its laws and institutions must first be amended. America needs to complete a comprehensive self-evaluation of its laws and institutions, abolish all laws that infringe on civil rights, political rights, social rights and every other basic human right, and amend the human rights infringements embedded in its electoral system, economic system and racial and foreign policies. Only then might America improve its human rights situation.

The author is a member of the Central Party School International Institute for Strategic Studies.

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