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The Effects of COVID-19 Upon Guns and Gun Violence

By: Hayley Morris

You’ve probably seen the headline declaring that March 2020 was the first March since 2002 with no school shootings. It’s a chilling statement, bundling 18 years of consistent gun violence on campuses into one statistic, leaving many to wonder what this knowledge means for the future.

When COVID-19 began to strike the United States, most public schools and colleges were closed in early March to prevent the spread of the respiratory illness. This meant for most of the month, campuses nation-wide were abandoned as students continued their studies at home. This also meant there was no populated campus to be targeted during this entire month.

However, despite the decrease in gun violence, there has been a massive increase in gun sales since the pandemic started, with 3.7 million background checks conducted by the FBI and 2 million guns sold in March alone, a number that skyrockets past previous months and years. This statistic is largely due to the fact many families now feel the need to protect themselves from possible crime rather than relying on the police. Many families feel as though the police will be unable to properly perform their job considering the various restrictions and social guidelines that have been implemented since the outbreak of COVID-19. The problem with this response is that it suggests two ideas: one being that the police cannot effectively enforce the law and prevent crime, and the second that there is a comfort from fear and anxiety to be found in buying and owning weapons.

It has many people asking the worrying question of what will happen to the statistics of shootings on campuses once the pandemic is over. Will the United States have a few months of zero school shootings (the way that statistic should always be) before reverting back to what is morbidly known as “normal”? Will the occurrences be even higher due to the massive outflow of guns into the American population since the pandemic began? And if so, what will be the people and the government’s response? Will they recognize there is an issue, finally, and take charge, or counter that there’s nothing that can be done, that this is just the way things have to be in order for the 2nd amendment to be fully protected?

These are uncomfortable questions. They put the true horror of gun violence into the spotlight. They make parents ask the question, after this pandemic, am I just supposed to send my child back to a place that seems to be more dangerous than keeping them at home? If that’s the case, why send them back? Why put my child in unnecessary danger?

Gun violence is the leading cause of death for children right after car crashes in the United States. That should not be considered normal under any circumstances.

This poses the question: what is to be done? That’s a debate that’s been going on for years, but whether you’re for or against Americans owning firearms, you must be able to agree that something needs to be done to protect children. There have already been 55 mass shootings as of February 29 this year. Do you really want to see that number go up?

The focus of this debate needs to move away from the 2nd amendment and whether certain grammatical choices mean one thing or another. The fight over words is mindless. What matters is human lives and how they’re affected, recognizing there needs to be a line drawn between the unpreventable and the ridiculous, and how to effectively respond and ensure the continued safety of children in schools, because that statistic should always be zero.

March 2020 with no school shootings since 2002 is not a headline to celebrate. It’s one to be fearful of.