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America’s gun problem during the pandemic

Published by IDSA on

A customer speaks with one of the owners at ABQ Guns in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016. The constitutional right of Americans to bear arms has become a flash point in the presidential contest between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump. Photographer: Sergio Flores/Bloomberg

By March 2020, the Coronavirus has managed to spread throughout the whole globe. Nowadays, the biggest countries with the biggest economies of the world are affected, which makes every country affected.

As of April 5, 2020, the United States has 311 637 cases with more than 8400 deaths. Numbers are growing exponentially in metropolitan agglomerations, as in New York City. The public atmosphere is becoming angrier, while the population is getting scared.

A few weeks before this development, ordinary people started panic buying and stocking up food and supplies at their homes, waiting for the instalment of a curfew. Both Homeland Security and the Trump Administration delivered official statements on March 28 declaring that only “essential” businesses, like grocery stores, pharmacies, and hospitals, could be open during the lockdown. They also emphasized that gun retailers and shooting ranges should remain open during the time of the pandemic. To this development, the National Rifle Association (NRA) supported this initiative with great joy.

“Nothing is more important than the ability to protect ourselves and our loved ones, especially during uncertain times”, Amy Hunter, the NRA’s director of public relations, told Fox News on Monday. “President Trump made clear that he understands this fundamental fact by recommending all gun stores remain open as essential businesses. The NRA remains vigilant as anti-gun lawmakers attempt to exploit the pandemic to pursue gun control. We will take any action necessary to ensure the American people can defend their families.”

Notwithstanding the NRA support, anti-gun groups and civic associations have a clear view on this too. These groups believe that it is time to prioritize public health over gun businesses. A famous anti-gun group, “Brady”, stood up against this legislation, calling it “outrageous”. Jonathan Lowy, chief counselor of Brady added: “It’s a public health issue, not a Second Amendment issue. The fact is that guns, the nature of guns, require that they be sold with a lot of close interaction. They can’t be sold from vending machines, can’t be sold with curbside pickup.” Some states have already tried to close gun shops but since the official DHS statement got out, they are facing legal issues. For example, in Los Angeles, the County Sheriff has twice ordered local gun dealers to close, but they withstood.

The Center of American Progress wrote an article on the topic, displaying 4 reasons not to buy a gun just because of the virus. First of all, a gun is more likely to be stolen than used in self-defence. Not to mention the unintentionally fired weapons by children which is a great problem in the country without the ongoing pandemic. The third reason also poses a threat when a dangerous pandemic is not in the picture. Committing suicide by gun is more likely to be successful than trying other ways. The fourth reason is that guns in homes do not help to halt the causes of domestic or family violence. People are locked up in their homes and this situation is making them frustrated, fearful and angry. At this point, it is a bad idea to have one-or-more guns in a household. Not to say, the chances are high that there are first-time gun users which makes it even more dangerous.

Nonetheless, some individuals argue that it is not only for self-defence, which is granted for Americans by the Second Amendment, but if stores run out of food, it is possible to go hunting with a shotgun and put food on the table.


Times International Guest Writer

The author of this article is Aniko Soltesz, International Security and Safety Policy Undergraduate student and member of the International Diplomatic Student Association (IDSA).


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