Editorial: NRA’s lawsuit against California exploits coronavirus crisis to push agenda of death

Tribune Content Agency

If you want to increase the chances that someone in your family will die during the coronavirus shutdown, buy a gun. Studies show that guns in the home make premature death more likely.

That’s one reason why the National Rifle Association’s decision to sue Gov. Gavin Newsom and other California officials in the middle of this pandemic is so disgusting. On Friday, the NRA sued Gov. Newsom, along with Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, demanding that gun stores be deemed “essential” despite stay-in-place orders that have shuttered most businesses.

No one expects anything good from the NRA, an organization defined by its callous disregard for human life. But exploiting a pandemic to push gun sales seems like some kind of new low.

“The lawsuit contends that Newsom’s order, and Villanueva’s enforcement of that order, is depriving lawful gun owners of their Second Amendment rights,” according to a story by the Sacramento Bee’s Andrew Sheeler.

Newsom’s stay-at-home order, which aims to slow the coronavirus’ spread, allows local officials to decide whether gun stores are essential. Gun sales have surged in recent weeks as some Americans, fearing “social upheaval,” have rushed to arm themselves.

“From Phoenix to Upstate New York, from Idaho to South Florida, firearms dealers reported surging sales in the past week as customers fretted about the future,” according to the Washington Post. “The National Instant Criminal Background Check System said it responded to inquiries on 2.8 million prospective gun-buyers last month–the third-highest monthly total since the system was created in 1998, and up from 2 million in February last year.”

Two weeks ago, the line of panic buyers at a gun shop in Culver City, Calif., extended out the door and around the corner. On March 24, LA County Sheriff Villanueva ordered the gun stores closed, concerned that “Panic-buying that produced long lines at the shops was worrisome from a public safety standpoint,” according to the Associated Press.

Gun stores in LA can still sell to security officers, and people who have already purchased their guns can still pick them up. But the sheriff made it clear: gun stores are not “essential.” LA City Attorney Mike Feuer agreed with the sheriff, saying only “‘life-sustaining’ businesses, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, can be open.”

The gun lobby may consider itself “life-sustaining,” but facts prove otherwise. On average, 100 Americans die every day due to gun violence and 200 are wounded, according to Everytown for Gun Safety. Americans are 25 times more likely to be killed by guns — and 10 times more likely to die by gun suicide — than people in other wealthy countries, according the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Guns pose a special risk to children ages 5 to 14, who are “11 times more likely to be killed with a gun in the US compared to other developed countries,” according to Vox.

COVID-19 is a potentially fatal disease, but the epidemic gun violence has killed Americans for decades. More than 1.5 million Americans died in gun-related incidents between 1968 and 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Before the coronavirus emerged a central threat, the U.S. was plagued by mass shootings.

The NRA’s answer to gun violence epidemic is always more guns. When you’re a hammer, every problem looks like a nail — and when you’re the NRA, every crisis looks like an opportunity to sell guns. The NRA is now actively stoking fear via social media posts in an effort to boost gun sales, according to Mother Jones.

Guns are a fact of American life, but gun stores are not essential in a pandemic. Deadly weapons in the hands of inexperienced owners will increase the odds of preventable death. Guns also pose a special threat to women with abusive partners during this stressful time.

Guns, panic and the coronavirus are a terrible combination. The NRA should stop its legal grandstanding and let our public officials do their jobs. The gun lobby will have plenty of time to pursue its agenda of death once the coronavirus threat subsides.


©2020 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

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