There are more than 300 million guns in this country -- enough for nearly every man, woman and child -- which might explain why come election Day (November 4) there will be a trio of high-profile gun measures on ballots across the nation.
Guns are especially on the minds of high schoolers across the country in the wake of last week's deadly shooting at a Washington State high school, which, according to Everytown for Gun Safety (the organization founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg), was the 87th school shooting since the December 2012 mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
The Washington incident took place less than two weeks before voters in that state will weigh in on two opposing gun measures on Tuesday's ballot, and just days after they began receiving mail-in ballots asking them to make a choice on Initiative 594 and Initiative 591, according to the Los Angeles Times.
594 would require universal background checks for gun sales, no matter the venue, while 591 would prohibit background checks in the state unless Congress passes a national standard that would restrict all regions equally. "We are heartbroken that gun violence has once again touched a Washington school," read a note from the 594-supporting Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, shortly after Friday's shooting. 591 supporters hit back immediately, saying the opposing initiative would have had no impact on the shooting because the shooter was a minor and it's already illegal for a minor to purchase a gun.
According to a July poll, 70 percent of Washington voters support 594, while 46 percent support 591.
Washington state's battling initiatives join two others that have been getting prominent coverage in the run-up to Tuesday's vote.
>> Alabama's Amendment 3 would strengthen the state's gun laws with a constitutional amendment to provide a "fundamental right to bear arms" in the state. The amendment would add more protection for gun rights to the state's constitution, even if the Supreme Court changes its interpretation of gun rights in the future.
>> In Cook County, Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn is supporting a non-binding measure asking if the state should require universal background checks for gun sales and if Illinois should ban assault weapons and prohibit their sale; 40 percent of Illinois residents live in Cook County. Chicago already has some of the strongest gun rules in the country, as well as some of the highest rates of gun violence in America. The measure is advisory, which means it has no legal standing.
Whether you live in any of those states or not, guns are clearly an issue that brings voters to polling places and gets a conversation started. As you get ready to make your decisions, here are some facts about guns you should consider:
1. Every day, 33 Americans are murdered and 53 people kill themselves with guns.
2. According to Armed Campuses, colleges in Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin allow the carrying of firearms on their premises, including concealed weapons in three of those states. Lawmakers in 14 other states have introduced bills this year that would allow permit concealed carry on campuses.
3. The U.S. has more guns and gun deaths than any other developed country in the world, with 88 guns per 100 people and 10 gun-related deaths per 100,000 people, more than any of the 27 other developed countries, according to a 2013 study by two New York cardiologists.
If you care about these issues and you live in these states, you should get out and vote next Tuesday.