Gun violence prevention is a complex issue that has many facets. The topic dominates the media, but it only covers one side of the issue. Gun violence is an intersectional issue and is being amplified by COVID-19, which plays a large part in this problem.
There is most definitely an intersection between COVID-19 and domestic violence in relation to firearms. Many places are putting quarantine and stay-at-home orders in place, meaning that people cannot leave their homes unless they have to visit essential services such as the doctor or grocery store.
However, this also means that survivors are locked in their homes with their abusers. The abusers may have access to a firearm, which increases fatality rates by five times the amount without a firearm. This can put victims in dangerous situations that they may feel stuck in.
There are several solutions that can minimize this risk. The first is to close the boyfriend loophole, which gives ex-boyfriends or stalkers with previous convictions access to a gun without penalty. Other solutions include enacting extreme risk protection orders (ERPO's) – which issue a court order to temporarily remove a firearm from those deemed harmful to themselves or others – and universal background checks.
Another intersection between COVID-19 and gun violence is the issue of mental health. Quarantine and social distancing may begin to have negative impacts on mental health. People may see an increase in anxiety or depression. They may also be more at risk of suicide because of these factors, which make up 60 percent of all gun deaths.
However, there are several solutions to this issue. One is to provide more mental health services, which can be done through online therapy or phone calls. If you are in need of help, you can call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also practice safe storage, which means keeping ammunition and firearms separate from each other.
Lastly, there is an intersection between COVID-19 and accidental at-home shootings. In fact, 4.6 million kids live in homes with unlocked and unsecured guns, which can cause accidental fatalities and increase the risk of suicide. Solutions can include practicing safe storage, in which the firearm is locked and unloaded, or smart gun technology, in which a gun can only fire with a unique fingerprint or code.
Overall, COVID-19 can have more implications than meets the eye. By following these firearm safety tips, you can keep yourself and everyone in your home safe. This pandemic will not last forever and we must remain hopeful for the brightness that is to come.