After more than a year of unspeakable tragedy, we continue to be traumatized by new reports of shootings and gun violence. As we grieve those lost in recent shootings, thousands more around the country will be receiving the heart-wrenching news that a loved one has passed away from Covid-19. Each life lost — whether by gun or by virus — is a life lost unnecessarily. Each could have been saved by simple interventions, nothing more than minor inconveniences but with a profound impact on saving lives.
Gun control measures and mask-wearing are both topics that are unnecessarily politicized, weaponized by those they intended to protect. Experts agree that mass shooters often purchase their guns at thelast minute shortly before their attack. The gunman in the Atlanta-area spa shootings purchased a 9mm semi-automatic pistol mere hours before he used it to kill eight people on March 16. A mandatory waiting period or licensing requirement could have possibly prevented the needless death — extra steps that are a small price to pay for gun owners when weighed against the cost to human life.
But while gun control measures are debated endlessly in Congress, there is an immediate action we can all take to save lives. Wear a mask around those outside your household. I know by this late stage in the pandemic, the message feels tired. Yet according to a study by USC, half of U.S. adults still don’t wear masks when in close contact with non-household members, so clearly the message isn’t getting through.
One thing that we can all agree on, is that no one particularly enjoys wearing a mask. In the same way, some don’t enjoy a wearing bike helmet or a seatbelt. Yet we have all agreed as a society that these interventions are a minor inconvenience and worth the life-saving benefits.
Why is it that we can’t apply the same logical rationale to wearing face masks that dramatically reduce the transmission of a rapidly mutating, deathly virus? How has a piece of cloth turned into such a polarizing issue?
The tired arguments of infringements on our freedom and liberty simply don’t hold up. How can you claim that we are free if we are all just one unmasked cough from away from contracting a deadly virus? Like many Americans, I am desperate for my freedom. The freedom to reunite with close friends and family members without the fear of infecting them. But with an average of 75,000 new cases of Covid-19 a day in the US, aided by the rapidly spreading variants this will remain out of reach until more Americans commit to wearing masks.
By implementing public health measures like gun control or mask mandates, public officials are not trying to take anything away from Americans. By contrast, they are giving us the gift of life. The countries that have been so successful in eliminating in Covid-19, like Australia and New Zealand have done so by presenting a united front. Politicians from both sides of the aisle buried the hatchet to present a singular public health message focused on preventing transmission of the disease at all costs. It is time for Americans to embody the same values of unity and mask up to prevent needless deaths