Opinion: The coronavirus moratorium on gun violence has ended. We must pay attention.

A commentary on the Boulder, Colorado and Atlanta, Georgia mass shootings.

The last mass shootings I remember, before the coronavirus pandemic began, were on a sweltering August night. I remember listening to Anderson Cooper talk about the 23 dead in El Paso, and the next morning, running downstairs to listen to him talk about the 27 dead in Dayton. That year, there were more mass shootings than there were days. 

In this pandemic, that reality seems to never have existed. No one seems to remember the deadliness of 2019 and 2020. No one seems to remember the endless debate yet inaction on gun control that plagued us. No one seems to remember the crying parents of teenagers killed in schools or the little children who lost their caretakers to domestic terrorists. No one seems to remember that before the coronavirus, there was another deadly disease infecting our country.

I cannot blame us for forgetting. It is hard to manage two problems at once, especially when one is a pandemic that has killed over 500,000 people in a year. 

But the time to remember is now. The time to realize our problem, the one that we falsely believed went away, is now. 

On March 20, five people were shot in a Houston nightclub. That same night, eight people were shot, and one died, at the hands of an unknown assailant in Dallas. 

The Boulder, Colorado shooting that killed 10 people in a supermarket who were trying to get COVID-19 vaccines and groceries was the 7th mass shooting in seven days in the United States. The racially motivated shooting of six Asian women in Atlanta is one of the dozens that have happened this year alone. 

It may seem like these types of attacks suddenly resumed out of nowhere, as though the problem had somehow gone away when COVID-19 began. However, this is far from the truth. There have been 103 mass shootings this year, but we have stopped talking about them. There has been no moratorium on the killings, simply on our action to stop them. 

We have, understandably, thrown our energy into this pandemic instead. Vaccines needed to be created and restrictions needed to be put in place. Businesses needed bailouts and people needed relief, but if we let our inaction on gun violence on forever there will be no progress. 

There will be the same government inaction there was after over 40 people were senselessly slaughtered in Las Vegas and Orlando. There will be the same ineffective discourse regarding the 2nd Amendment, even though it was created hundreds of years ago in regards to forming militias to defend the United States from British troops. There will be more AR-15s in the hands of domestic terrorists and more deaths in vain. 

With hate crimes being at their highest level in decades, there may even be more bloodshed than years prior.

Simply put, we cannot let all of our energy go into this pandemic. We can do more than one thing at a time. We can pass COVID-19 relief bills and gun reform. We can protest and practice social distancing. We can get vaccinated and create long-lasting meaningful change.  

But if there is one thing we cannot do, is let our inaction continue. We must pay attention. We must do something.