The Secret Pandemic of 2020

With thousands of people in the United States suffering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, we failed to notice another pandemic soaring right beneath our noses.

The year of 2020 sets the record for the highest number of mass shootings since 2014, which is when the Gun Violence Archive began keeping record. There have been over 500 mass shootings over the course of the year, over 100 more than 2019.

I must confess, with the global pandemic to distract me I had no idea that mass shootings were soaring at the same time. Now that I think about it however, it simply makes sense. Last year, every single system in the United States was overwhelmed and underfunded. The healthcare system was struggling to stay afloat while the economy plunged into the worst recession since the Great Depression almost 100 years ago. As a result of sheer desperation, there was a growing crime wave which the criminal justice system was unable to handle.

Furthermore, 2020 was a key election year which only served to exacerbate political tensions. The FBI warned of violent extremist threats in reference to the election year and the 2021 inauguration. The murder of George Floyd and the ensuing Black Lives Matter protests also created a panic in people to protect themselves by buying firearms. In short, there were more guns on the streets. And when there are more guns, there are more shootings.

It baffles me when I think about how little our government is doing to mitigate these mass shootings. I am further shocked when I consider how easy it is to obtain firearms in this country. With gun sales increasing over 60% during the course of 2020, it is easy to see how the FBI’s background check system became overwhelmed. This however, is no excuse for the legal loophole which allows sellers to sell guns based on their own discretion if the background check is “inconclusive”.

I can’t even begin to fathom how many hundreds of guns are sold in this manner and how many of those guns end up being used to murder people. This loophole is frankly dangerous and an embarrassment in our legal system.

Shootings in the United States is a pandemic of its own and we are slowly shooting ourselves in the foot by failing to pay attention to this killer.