IN THE NAME OF FEAR by Toni Wellen, CAGV Chair Emeritus

We are living in the time of COVID. Should I wear a mask and social distance, or should I buy a gun? Am I safer with a gun? Perhaps getting vaccinated might be more logical, however I need to wait my turn…. what are others doing?

Gun sales surged in the Spring of 2020 amid coronavirus fears and have climbed higher during protests for racial justice.

As reported in this column last March, Americans have bought nearly 17 million guns so far in 2020, more than in any other single year, according to estimates.

By August of 2020, we had exceeded the total of gun sales in 2019. By September, we exceeded the highest total ever. The increase in gun sales appeared to be primarily driven by more purchases of handguns, though Americans were also buying more rifles and other long guns.

Gun sales across the United States first jumped in the spring of 2020, driven by fears about the coronavirus pandemic, and spiked even higher in the summer, during massive racial justice protests across the country, prompted initially by police killings of black Americans and currently by racial hatred of Asian-Americans. Although Donald Trump unfairly blames an entire ethnic group for the coronavirus pandemic crisis, it can embolden discrimination and violence. However, the treatment of Asian Americans goes way back, and is part of the systemic racism of America.

Gun violence prevention advocates said the sustained surge in gun sales was deeply troubling and could contribute to an increase in domestic violence, suicide and children accidentally shooting themselves or with adults’ guns.

An increase in gun purchases in just the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic was associated with an 8% increase in firearm violence.

The gun industry thrives in a culture of fear. What should we realistically fear?
Gun violence is already an urgent public health emergency in this country that takes the lives of nearly 40,000 people annually. Putting more guns in more hands is certain to exacerbate that problem.

When it comes to making the decision of whether to buy a gun—especially in a time of increased uncertainty and anxiety—individuals and families should ensure that this choice is guided by research.

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