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

Here are four informed reasons to think twice before buying a gun during the coronavirus crisis:

1. A gun is more likely to be stolen than used in self-defense.
Guns are infrequently used in self-defense, they are routinely stolen. Data shows that guns are therefore twice as likely to be stolen than they are to be used for self-defensive purposes.

2. Unsecured guns in the home create risks of unintentional shootings by children.
An estimated 4.6 million children in the United States live in homes where guns are unsecured—meaning they are not locked or in a gun safe. Many parents think their children do not know that there are guns in the home or where they are stored. Often children do know how to gain access to these guns. 73 percent of children under the age of 10 actually knew the storage location, contradicting their parents’ perceptions. FYI—California has a law, Child Access Prevention or CAPs. If there are minor children in the home, firearms must be stored, unloaded and locked separately from ammunition.

3. Guns are the most lethal means of suicide attempts.
Social isolation can increase feelings of anxiety, despair, and helplessness. Adding guns into that equation heightens the risk of fatal self-harm.
Gun suicides account for two-thirds of all gun deaths in the United States, and guns are the most lethal means by which suicide is attempted.

4. Guns in the home increase risks to victims of domestic and family violence.
For victims of domestic and family violence, the need to remain at home and practice social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 can heighten the risks of serious injury or death. An abusive partner may further isolate survivors from their support systems, or intensify their physical abuse and disrupt strategies that survivors have developed to keep themselves safe.

The question of whether bringing a gun into a home is a safe and appropriate choice for a household involves the awareness that a gun is dangerous in anyone’s hands. It is a weapon designed to kill. Should we fear the virus or a firearm we brought into our home?

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