We need to talk about the increase in gun sales
At this point in the pandemic, none of us are a stranger to the absolute pandemonium caused by “panic buying” in stores. While it’s easy to mock the ridiculousness of toilet paper hoarding through online jokes and memes, it’s important to realize the danger that panic buying truly imposes. While the conversation around panic buying has largely focused on grocery stores and getting essential materials to those who need them most, I believe there’s another topic we must focus on: the sharply rising rate of gun sales.
In just a little more than a week after The White House proclaimed a state of national emergency, guns and ammunition shops across the country reported customers coming out in droves and waiting in long, wrap around lines (a phenomenon I witnessed first had while driving past a gun shop on the way to the grocery store one town over). Online purchases have also skyrocketed with one retailer, ammo.com, reporting an increase of over 200 percent on online transactions.
This statistic is concerning to me not only as a citizen of the country with the highest gun-related mortality rate in the world but as someone with a personal connection to gun violence.
In July of 2018, I visited a few of my friends in Hartford Connecticut for an annual convention and festival. During the annual Saturday fireworks show, gunshots broke out after a man who had gotten into a fight with his friend decided to pull a gun and fire not only at him, but randomly into the crowd. Although no one was hurt, my friend and I were trapped inside the neighboring parking garage due to the panic from the screaming waves of the crowd. We were nearly in the dark as we walked through the garage for a half an hour, surrounded by the sounds of slamming doors and screaming civilians, and left only with the fear of wondering if the boom we just heard was a firework or another gunshot.
As a kid, beachside fireworks were the highlight of my summer, but until this year’s Homecoming fireworks show, I hadn’t been able to hear the sound of one popping without instantly panicking or having nightmares for days.
Guns took away my ability to enjoy fireworks, but I am among the luckiest people alive. They have taken much more from so many others.
The guns people buy now will not magically disappear once this pandemic is over, and who’s to say who will get access to a gun during this time and for what purpose. As witnesses to many events of brutal violence, my generation has spent the past several years advocating for greater action.
Now is a time of fear, anger, hate and paranoia. There have already been multiple racist attacks on Asian Americans throughout the country. During this pandemic, it is crucial to at least start imposing greater background checks and other preventative measures before yet another massacre occurs as a result of these unchecked emotions and prejudices.
To those who still wish to buy a gun: I recognize that for many of you this comes out of a well-meaning intention to protect your loved ones, but I ask you to please think and have an honest conversation with your loved ones before you buy.
A gun is quite literally a life commitment to upholding responsibility. If not locked up and kept for properly, someone, especially a child, could wind up seriously injuring themselves. Even when buying a gun for sport, I also ask you to be considerate.
After my experience with gun voilence, it took months for me to open up to some of the people closest to me. Even if you think you know “everything” about those around you- you don’t know what your loved one has been through.
While we’re all at stuck home, everyone deserves to feel safe. Just think, your neighbor could be a veteran or survivor. Above all, just ask yourself if you truly need it.
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