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JEFF MCINTOSH/THE CANADIAN PRESS. Employee looks through the scope of long gun at a store in Calgary, Alta., Sept. 15, 2010. Some gun dealers are reporting a spike in sales amid the coronavirus outbreak. Image from Huffington Post, March 18, 2020.

In this month to consider the place of violence in our times, I want to draw our attention to this past spring when it began to sink in that the pandemic was real. Colin Perkel of the Canadian Press reported in March:

The COVID-19 outbreak coupled with fears about more restrictive gun legislation has fuelled a spike in firearm and ammunition sales, several dealers said… Buyers, they say, are stocking up while they can ― a development that has alarmed gun-control advocates.

“We are seeing a surge in sales,″ said Ross Faulkner, owner of The Gun Dealer in McAdam, N.B., which bills itself Atlantic Canada’s largest firearms store. “When things get tough, it’s certainly a feeling of security, especially when you’re dealing with uncertain times like we’re dealing with now”…

A False Sense of Security

There was a 200% spike in gun and ammunitions sales in March that one gun shop owner described as “unprecedented” as shops were “seeing long lines snaking around buildings as people rush to stock up. There, store owners are not hesitant to say fear over the spread of the novel coronavirus is driving sales.” (Steven D’Souza, CBC).

This is self-preservation. This is panic. This is ‘I won’t be able to protect my family from the hordes and the walking dead.’

Who are the Good Guys?

On December 21, 2012, one week after the unspeakable Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre, the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre articulated his answer to the gun violence problem: “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” Even anticipating the scorn he and the NRA would receive, he didn’t bother to consider the epistemological difficulties of identifying who the good guys are… any more. Is it You? Is it me? Is a good guy only self identified? If so, then the “bad” guys are as “good” as anyone else in this time of massive identity confusion.

Recently former reservist in the Canadian Armed Forces for 40 years, Tony Keene put it this way:

“The more guns in society, the more gun deaths. Legal guns have a way of being stolen and becoming illegal. And even a law-abiding gun owner can cross over to the dark side under stress, delusion and paranoia.

People who rave about owning these devices of death are often referred to as “gun enthusiasts.” This makes about as much sense as “poison gas enthusiasts” or “land mine enthusiasts.” Collecting and slavering over devices which are primarily designed to kill people is not normal.”

When You live in Fear

I get it; when you live in fear, you do things you think will reduce that fear. But this? This proliferating gun culture does not do that. It rather feeds the fear of your neighbour, or of some imagined criminal, or even of a person jogging through your neighbourhood as the Ahmaud Aubery case exposed.

Guns cannot do what only God can: give perspective to what is to be feared:

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:28 – 31

As the Psalmist sang some 3000 years ago,

Some trust in chariots [guns?] and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

This is more enigma than dogma.