Like the other 349 Millions of you, I am holed up in my house with my kids, going a bit stir crazy, gaining weight and social distancing myself from the looming threat of Covid 19 outside, which, unfortunately, keeps finding its way into people’s lives through other means than noses, mouths, and eyes, such as wallets, as we continue to watch our economy implode. But as I sit here, stuck in this surreal new routine that is now my life, I can’t help but notice a glaring irony within it.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, this article is shaping up to be one of those eternally optimistic, hippy-dippy spews, encouraging me to learn from this teachable moment, and see it as an opportunity for enlightenment and growth. Well, not to worry. It’s quite the opposite.
You see, having spent the better part of the last decade fighting for safer gun laws, it dawned on me that many of us, in that very same fight, just got our wish; our kids are finally safe from school shootings! Granted it took a pandemic to get us here, but we are here nonetheless. The Coronavirus is proving to be a far more formidable opponent to the NRA than every gun safety advocacy organization, every government bill, petition, PSA and stunt… combined.
And while this may seem like a thin consolation prize, if you look at the numbers, it is definitely worth celebrating. After all, 100 people die every day in the United States at the hands of gun violence. That’s the total death toll in this country from Covid 19 as of March 17th, over a period of two and a half weeks. In the same window of time, 1700 people die every year from gun violence and we don’t even bat an eye. Seventeen times the carnage! EVERY YEAR! And the government does nothing. Why? Because politicians, aka "old white men", aren’t on the front lines of that issue. But now that the Grim Reaper is knocking on their door, suddenly it’s time to declare a national emergency. Well, as the saying goes, karma is a bitch, because the emergency has been here for over a decade.
That said, there is one ray of hope within this disturbing irony, the power of us. As a society, when we put our minds and hearts together as a nation, there is virtually nothing we can’t accomplish. I mean, just look at us! Republicans and Democrats united to pass the fasted response bill in two decades. We now stand in line in front of supermarkets and sit at home all day, struggling to be subpar substitute teachers for our children. We’ve closed our businesses large and small. We stopped going to the gym, the movies, bars and dinners. Sacrificing literally trillions of dollars collectively in the stock market, and all of it is in exchange for the value of human lives saved. And we made this turn in just a matter of days.
So, the question remains, once life goes back to normal after Covid 19, what will we do? Will the country have even noticed this anomaly? Doubtful. Will the shootings simply resume as if nothing happened? Probably. Will we have learned anything about what we are capable of as a nation in the effort to save tens of thousands of human lives? God, I hope so.
Ari Halper is the North American Creative Partner at FCB.