The FBI conducted 3.7 million background checks this March, the highest total since the national instant check system was launched in 1998.
“The period of March 17-21 was an especially busy period for the background check system. More than 210,000 checks were conducted on March 21 alone, the record for a single day.” – NBC News
This trend has another unfortunate outcome; an increase in suicides.
With staggering unemployment, increased social unrest, systematic racism and family/friends isolated, dying alone in a hospital from a global pandemic, it’s no wonder suicide has escalated as well.
Evidence has shown that new handgun ownership is strongly associated with suicide. This is especially problematic because statistically, suicide will happen immediately after purchasing the weapon. And we’re already starting to see a spike in gun violence this year, with shootings doubling in some areas compared to last year.
Anxiety and fear spurred by COVID-19 and the protests/riots are the roots of this firearm purchasing explosion. Another accelerant that we should factor in is, the CDC has reported an increase of people having signs of (PTSD) anxiety disorder (30% +) and depressive disorder (23%) in surveys conducted from mid-April to mid-May. And these trends are especially worrisome because new gun owners are at a substantially higher risk of suicide.
“Stay Home, Stay Safe” has other implications to the clinically depressed. Yes, self-isolation will flatten the curve of COVID-19 but it will increase the sense of loneliness and despair, which could lead to suicide.
The spark of George Floyd’s death has created a movement against systematic racism. Tensions are high everywhere we look. Justly so. Purchasing a handgun can give people a false sense of control in these truly unprecedented times we are living in.
“People are worried with law enforcement stretched to the maximum, now responding to only selected calls,” he said. “They realize that when bad things happen, it’s going to be up to them to be able to defend themselves and their families.” -Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association
This is not the answer. The world is a tinderbox right now.
“Enter the importance of red flag laws. Policy and public health experts created this court-issued order as a temporary prohibition on gun purchase or possession, but only when documented evidence shows someone is a threat to themselves or others…….Unfortunately, red flag laws are not in force everywhere. Just 19 states and the District of Columbia have them in some form, each with slight variations in who can petition for the order, but the general principles are the same.” – Scientific America
A few states have chosen to close gun stores, including NY, MA, and NM. In WA , Gov. Inslee left gun dealers off the list of essential businesses. That didn’t stop some dealers that stayed open regardless. Many argued that shutting gun stores down violated the 2nd Amendment. As the COVID-19 cases surge, firearms will remain a horrific challenge to public health.
We need to work together, to look out for our fellow man. We need to work together to prevent gun violence, and red flag laws are an effective tactic. We have many hurdles in front of us right now.
We are living in a tinderbox.
Check in with your family.
Check in with your friends.
Check in with your neighbors.
“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.”
― Lucius Annaeus Seneca