We should react this way to other contemporary issues

The Coronavirus is bad. That’s an easy one. But has our massive response to COVID highlighted our hypocrisy in ignoring other issues like gun violence?


Evanthia Stirou

Should the gun violence crisis weigh as much on the scale of social action as the Coronavirus?

About two months after the first case of coronavirus in America, the total number of US cases has reached nearly 140,000 cases, with approximately 2,400 deaths to date. 

That number seems scary and quite obviously, it’s a daunting one. It’s not the deadliest or fastest accelerating or most lethal pandemic of all time, but it is certainly up there.  When you look at linked timeline of the pandemics throughout history, there are some serious doozies out there.  

Even though Corona’s escalation hasn’t been as severe as some other pandemics in the past, it’s still garnering a lot of attention because of how new and scary it is. Corona has caused a worldwide frenzy, and while one would be remiss to claim that the panic it has instilled in the general population is unwarranted, the massive reaction does bring up an interesting question: Why haven’t other major contemporary issues been addressed and attacked with the same fervor?

Gun violence accounts for an average of 36,000 American deaths per year (around 200,000 deaths worldwide, on average).  

As of Monday morning, Corona has killed 35,000 worldwide.

And while Corona deaths are sure to rise much higher, and the scope of the problem is scary and unknown, the gun violence problem is exponential and scary also (consider those death numbers over a span of years). 

Why haven’t other major contemporary issues been addressed and attacked with the same fervor?

— Caroline Gans

While Corona is the problem of the present (as it should be), it’s interesting to note that nothing even approaching the measures taken to fight Corona has been applied to fight gun violence, which has had a much longer shelf life with plenty of opportunities to address it.   

Gun violence has become so normalized, such a part of American culture, that when a news reader comes across a headline about yet another school shooting, they tend to forget about it in a week tops. Now, look at Corona. School districts everywhere are closing, citizens are quarantining, borders have been secured, major events are being canceled, millions of jobs are being lost, pro sports leagues have called their seasons, and hand sanitizer is in such high demand that Amazon sellers have raised its price by more than 50%. 

Again, coronavirus is not an issue that should be taken lightly, and the precautions being taken against it are simply a matter of health and safety. However, a question on some people’s minds is this: Why are all of these measures being taken to help stop COVID-19 when almost none are being taken to help stop gun violence? Or other “normalized” killers for that matter, like traffic accidents and smoking and climate change. 

And this is despite the fact that a majority of Americans desire more strict gun control laws.  

Admittedly, this is a complicated comparison with many factors.  But in a simple frame: gun violence is a problem, like COVID 19; let’s take big solution-centered steps, like COVID 19.

Why is it that coronavirus is being taken so much more seriously than gun violence? Well, that answer may lie in the fact that it is a much less objectionable topic. 10/10 experts agree: dying from a virus is bad. Taking measures to prevent this is good. 

One would think the same math would apply to gun violence, but with gun violence, it gets quite a bit trickier. The nation is divided on the subject of guns, making it an issue easier left untouched. However, when over 100 Americans are killed with guns everyday and over 200 are seriously injured, and an average of 36,000 are killed each year, maybe it’s time to take the same gung-ho approach seen with Coronavirus to try to make America safe again.

As former 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren put it, “We lose eight children and teenagers to gun violence every day. If a mysterious virus suddenly started killing eight of our children every day, America would mobilize teams of doctors and public health officials. We would move heaven and earth until we found a way to protect our children. But not with gun violence.” 

And it turns out she was right. Maybe this country needs to look at its priorities in the wake of this pandemic and apply some of the same strategies it deployed against COVID in the fight against gun violence.