Across America, people have been told to take refuge at home and to venture out only to get things they really need, like groceries, prescription drugs and petrol. But should weapons also be on that list? Gun rights advocates think they should. They’ve now achieved a federal shutdown-order exemption for gun shops( guns and ammo) and firing ranges, arguing that these establishments provide an essential service during a pandemic.
Unless anyone is planning on “shooting those little coronaviruses one by one”, this is a recipe for disaster. In states that are still allowing gun shops to stay open, such as California, there has been a boom in sales, with people queuing round the block outside the most popular shops. Some Asian Americans have reportedly been arming themselves in case they suffer racist attacks linked to the virus. Other people have bought weapons in case there’s a breakdown of social order.
Fear is natural at times like this, but there’s no reason to let gun shops profit from it. Loading up with rifles isn’t a rational response to a medical emergency. “It is caving in to dark thoughts and expectations, and it moves the needle on our collective safety a little further down the ‘dangerous’ part of the scale.” (Scott Martelle, Los Angeles)
My father had a hunting shotgun, which was kept under lock and key. Every three months a policeman arrived at the house to ensure that the gun was safely locked up and hadn’t fallen into the hands of some nutter. Result of this nationwide policy? A handful only of innocent people gunned down for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is the task of government to protect the people, not to encourage tens of thousands to lose their lives. Epicureanism at work, or common sense – take your pick.