As “social distancing” from the coronavirus in America gears up social attraction to guns on the internet is the highest its been in over a year. Fear is feeling powerless in the face of the unknown. What better way to feel safe and assurred than with a handy 9 mm?
In the past few days Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. federal government’s top infectious disease expert, said the U.S. could experience more than 100,000 deaths and millions of infections from the pandemic. So are panicky Americans hoarding toilet paper and canned goods to prepare for the apocalypse? Some for sure but no surprise that the biggest jump in internet searches is for guns.
The graphs I pulled together below show the number of Americans searching the web for information about guns in the first three months of 2019 compared to the first three months of 2020, particularly after fears of the coronavirus gripped the headlines (source: Google Trends which uses an algorithm to offer a weighted averaged using a scale of 100).
This is a troubling phenomena now well reported in the news media. Check out this quote by reporter Richard A. Oppel Jr. in a March 16, 2020 New York Times article describing a first-time gun owner.
“Mr. Hill, a 29-year-old kitchen manager in Charlotte, N.C., said he feared that the virus could lead to a breakdown of public order, with looting and robberies and ‘everything shutting down, like in a zombie movie” where society ‘just won’t have any sense of lawfulness anymore.'”
“Gun and ammunition dealers said they have seen an influx of customers with similar concerns in recent weeks, creating a spike in sales as coronavirus anxiety spreads. Reports of firearms and survival gear flying off the shelves have been widespread, including in California, New York, Washington State, Alabama and Ohio” (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/16/us/coronavirus-gun-buyers.html).
Fear of the coronavirus is understandable in especially America as a U.S. president offers a daily dose of contradictions, bafflegab, self-absorbed insights, and just simply wrong information. Rather than easing the twin devils of fear–powerlessness and the unknown–with societal empowerment and factual, reliable information, Mr. Trump has in large part created a scene of chaos where a nifty assault rifle with a clear scope appears to be an important ingredient to social distancing.