Pandemic Reminder that Guns are a Threat

Kiera Burns, Staff Writer

Kiera Burns, Opinion Writer

This March was the first in 18 years without a school shooting the United States. 

Let that sink in. With so many schools shut down across the country, stats like these give us a chance to reflect on how gun violence is normalized in American society. 

Even in the midst of this pandemic, however, gun violence has not completely stopped. Domestic violence is still an issue, race-based violence continues, and armed protests maintain a risk to public safety. 

There was even a spike in firearm sales once the pandemic began to enter the United States. Many people use guns for protection, but having a gun is not necessarily going to help protect you from a virus. Ironically, many people disobeying these orders and protesting in groups are armed and extremley pro-gun. 

Such a sudden spike in gun sales is quite disturbing. When not used and stored properly, guns can be a real danger. This is especially true for children and accidental shootings. Simply put, guns in the house are dangerous. And now, with everyone at home more than ever, that danger is constantly present. It could be even worse with parents busy working from home and young kids having less supervision. 

 Domestic violence call centers have shown an increase in calls, as victims may be isolated with their abusers with little hope of escape. Domestic violence and gun violence often go hand and hand. In domestic violence situations where the abuser has access to a gun, the victim is five times more likely to be killed. 

Calls to a Chicago center have increased since the stay-at-home order has been in place. The Marshall Project reports that some cities have lower rates of reports, but that this is actually a cause of concern: With an abuser constantly in the house, a victim has a more difficult time placing a call for her own safety. It’s more difficult to report. 

Domestic violence has also “decreased” (per reports which can be underestimated) less than crime overall. Many may hear about decreased crime rates due to the pandemic, but domestic violence is not necessarily included in this. This is because in situations with guns, the danger could even increase. People are forced to stay in their houses, and the abuser would have constant access to a gun without a way of the victim escaping. Don’t be fooled by the apparent decrease, because it indicates a larger problem overall. 

Armed protests continue to be an issue. Guns are not even the focus of the protest, but so many of the people gathering in groups are armed. This is likely an attempted power move, and a dangerous one. There is a reason the stay-at-home orders are in place. Everyone wants the country to completely “open up” – but it simply isn’t safe to do so. 

Protests like these are a direct danger to public health and frankly, to the protesters themselves and their families. The pandemic has the ability to spread incredibly quickly and scientist after scientist have addressed the true danger. After virtually attending a Michigan based Students for Biden meeting and speaking to a MI state Senator, I found out that the Senate was literally in session, social distance style, as angry protesters stood above them on an upper floor with their guns, shouting at the Senators working. Public officials at this time are constantly trying to protect the American people and stop the spread of the virus, and these constituents don’t seem to be helping. 

If you want to be protected, practice social distancing, wash your hands, and wear a mask. Even if some of our elected officials don’t. 

Gun violence continues to plague our nation, and this pandemic hasn’t stopped it in total. It may have temporarily stopped mass shootings from occurring, which allows us to take a bittersweet reflection on the progression – or lack thereof in this country. It takes a global pandemic to have a month without school shootings. Not legislation, protests, or another tragedy. I hope that once we get through this – wherever that may be – that gun violence prevention becomes a higher priority issue. We may have to wait until the next election to have a chance, but it must be a top priority.