There’s little about society that the coronavirus has left untouched. This pandemic has had consequences extending far beyond its medical toll: economic hardship, increases in inequality, and a general rise in fear and paranoia, as if America needed any more of this.
One of the more concerning ripple effects, and one we’ll be dealing with for many years to come, has been a sharp spike in gun sales (as if America needed any more of +those+). Fear and paranoia have always led people to buy more weapons, but what’s unique about the pandemic surge was the number of people buying firearms who had never owned a gun before. One in five Americans who bought a gun during the 2020 surge in sales was a first time gun buyer. After having experienced a small decline in recent years, gun ownership is now back up to 39% of all households, up from 32% in 2016. *1
The reason so many first-time gun owners went out and bought a weapon is concern about their family’s safety amidst what many feared might devolve into a society-wide breakdown. Which is perhaps the most tragic thing of all, because guns are worse at protecting your family than doing nothing at all.
The moment you buy a gun, the odds of your loved one’s dying a violent death go up dramatically. Statistically speaking, the odds are around 800 to 1 that a gun will be used for tragic purposes versus legitimate self-defense. Which is sort of like playing a perverse type of Russian roulette with your family’s life; only instead of taking out all the bullets but one, you’re going to load every chamber but one on an 800 capacity magazine, then put it to their head and pull the trigger and hope you hit the long odds and avoid a tragedy.
Owning a gun for personal protection is like rigging your child’s playroom with deadly booby traps to protect against intruders: It may make you +feel+ safer, but it’s more likely to harm your kids than protect them.
If you’re one of these people who went out and bought a gun during the pandemic for personal protection, I would strongly urge you to reconsider this decision. You can read more on the personal protection myth, as well as get facts on the role firearms play in society, in our book Guns for Protection?
1. The Week, June 11, 2021, p. 16