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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

‘New Normal?’


The end of a pandemic sparks the return of an epidemic

After living through a yearlong pandemic which has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans, millions of people are getting vaccinated and able to do things which they haven’t been able to for over a year. Finally, it seems as though we are approaching a return to “normal life.”

But with two mass shootings within a six-day time span, one on March 16 in Georgia and the other on March 22 in Colorado, the question begs to be asked: are mass shootings the trade off to be made at the end of this pandemic? 

According to the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), a nonprofit research group that has cataloged every incident of gun violence in the U.S. since 2013, in 2019 there were 15,208 willful, malicious and accidental deaths from gun violence and 417 mass shootings. This was the first time since 2013 that mass shootings, defined by GVA as any incident where at least four people are shot, have exceeded the number of days in the year.

Stay-at-home orders were issued across the U.S. beginning on March 15, keeping Americans inside their homes for the foreseeable future. Students transitioned to online learning and therefore did not attend school in person, and people stopped frequenting highly populated places, leaving their homes only for necessary grocery store trips. As a result, according to the GVA, there were 21 mass murders in 2020. 

However, just as vaccinations are being provided to the public as successful deterrents to COVID-19 with the potential to save millions of lives, the shootings in Georgia and Colorado signal a return to fearing for our lives for an unfortunately familiar reason. 

Since the emergence of anti-maskers at the beginning of the pandemic, the question of individual rights versus public health and safety has once again come into play. People claiming that their rights were being violated because they were being asked to wear a mask to protect the rest of the population is reminiscent of the decades long fight for gun control. Those who fight against simple background checks and stricter gun purchasing regulations are only thinking of how rights are supposedly being violated and not how many lives gun control laws could save.

The willingness to replace one preposterous claim for individual rights with another at the constant expense of the lives of thousands of Americans is deplorable. Just one week before the shooting in Boulder, the state district court of Colorado ruled against a proposed ban of certain shotguns, pistols and semi-automatic rifles, and Judge Andrew Hartman claimed “only Colorado state (or federal) law can prohibit the possession, sale and transfer of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.”

The U.S. government has made little to no progress passing gun control bills, and both Democrats and Republicans are consistently standing in the way of successfully passing more regulations and background checks for potential gun owners. Two bills have passed through the U.S. House of Representatives which would expand background checks to those buying guns through the internet, at gun shows and through private vendors, as well as expand the ability of authorities to wait 10 days for federal background checks to be completed before a gun sale can be completed. 

I, like many Americans, am feeling frightened. Between exposure to a deadly virus and fear of dying in a mass shooting, places such as grocery stores, schools, nail salons and movie theaters feel more unsafe than ever. 

The solutions to both the coronavirus pandemic and the threat of gun violence are both action from the U.S. government, as well as from each other. Vocally supporting the passage of gun control laws and pressuring congresspeople to vote for safer regulations is the only way change will happen. The inability of Congress to pass sufficient gun control laws over the past decades inspires little faith, but so long as people are still dying, we must still fight for reform.

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