Just Stay Home

Isis Durkin , Copy Editor

America has an expansive history of public protests in times of distress, and this pandemic has shown to be no different. At this point, governors in 45 states have issued stay-at-home orders. Each state’s rules vary slightly, but generally, people are asked to stay home unless they have jobs at an essential business or need to complete a necessary task. Starting shortly after these orders were issued by governors, multiple groups have come together and decided they do not agree with these policies.  

In an attempt to express their beliefs, protests have sprung up all around the country. One of the most notable rallies in Ohio was organized in part by Ohio Gun Owners. Many of the attendants arrived at the statehouse full of anger, with guns in tow. This has shown to be a very common theme among protests in many states. According to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), at least 114,086 people in Ohio purchased a gun based on the number of new background checks run. In contrast, only an average of 53,000 background checks is typically run each month.

In Michigan, protesters took their mission to a whole new level. On April 30, they crowded into the statehouse armed with assault rifles. In addition to their aggressive entrance, some of them even carried racist signs and symbols. It is obvious that these people were not interested in a conflict-free resolution, but rather to scare state officials into complying with their unprecedented and unsafe requests.

Bringing weapons to what should be a peaceful display of opinions seems, for the most part, to be unnecessary. If they are worried about stay-at-home orders infringing on their rights, they should be aware that a gun will not fix the problem. Weapons do not have the capability to fight off a virus, which is why the orders are needed in the first place. By allowing guns of any kind at protests, it shows that as a country we are willing to solve our disagreements with violence, which should never be the response. The only real purpose guns serve in their protests is fear-mongering. 

Not only are the guns unnecessary, but they endanger the protesters themselves and any passersby. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2018, over 18,000 injuries in the United States were due to unintentional firearm gunshots. If one of those in attendance were to lose control of their weapons like thousands of people do each year, it could cause other attendees to become part of that horrifying statistic. 

The dangers that these organizations present lie not only in the weapons that were brought to them. All the orders created to keep people at home have been made with the general population’s best interest at heart. According to the CDC, the coronavirus has had an R0 of up to 5.7 which measures how many people on average an infected individual will transmit the infection to in a group lacking any immunity. This virus is incredibly infectious, and by gathering in groups of any size, you are exposing not only yourself but also many other people. 

To healthcare professionals and other essential workers, these protests are seen as incredibly disrespectful. Every day, workers in essential jobs risk their lives and the safety of their family to help hundreds of other people, while ignorant protesters risk themselves and others for a situation that would likely end much sooner if everyone just complied with the precautions set by health officials. 

Honestly, it’s quite simple. Just stay home. The longer people continue to fight against the limits, the higher infection rates will rise, and as the number of infections increase it will be even more difficult to return to normalcy.