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West Virginia Gov. Announces Gun Giveaway As Part Of Vaccine Incentive

littlethings.com logo littlethings.com 6/4/2021 Sarah Bregel
a group of items on a blanket: free-guns-feature © Provided by littlethings.com free-guns-feature

A lot of states have started giving out incentives to persuade people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. I mean, because if your own health and the health of your friends and family isn't a good enough reason to get the shot, then cash probably is.

While most states have been giving away money, some have opted for different types of giveaways. West Virginia Governor Jim Justice just announced that on June 20, Father's Day, the state will give away five custom hunting rifles and five custom hunting shotguns.

It's not just guns, though. They'll also be including two brand-new trucks, five lifetime hunting and fishing licenses, and getaways to West Virginia’s state parks. There's also a $1.588 million grand prize, as well as two college scholarships.

Somehow, people seem mostly jazzed about the guns.

Regardless of the fact that these incentives might actually work, the fact that West Virginia is including guns in its incentive program is blowing a lot of people's minds. But any West Virginian who receives a first dose will be eligible for the drawings, which will run from June 20 to August 4.

On the one hand, the incentive might really be helpful. "The faster we get people across the finish line the more lives we save. That's all there is to it," Justice said. "If the tab just keeps running the cost is enormous. The hospitalizations are enormous. We have to get all of our folks across the finish line."

On the other hand, the internet has been quick to point out that there's already a massive gun violence problem in the United States. Gun violence has been steadily increasing since the country has been slowly reopening, including a drastic increase in the number of mass shootings. So giving away free guns to push people toward getting vaccinated just feels off.

But this is America, and people love their guns. It's hard to argue with that truth. Combine that with the fact that everyone is not yet convinced with how important vaccination in a pandemic is and you've got yourself one strange, yet maybe oddly effective, incentive.

The White House's plan has been a little less exciting for some. President Joe Biden has been urging Americans to get their vaccines with the lure of free child care and a complimentary beer. The president's goal is that 70% of adults have their first vaccine by July 4.

“America is headed into the summer dramatically different from last year's summer,” Biden said. “A summer of freedom, a summer of joy, a summer of get-togethers and celebrations, an all-American summer that this country deserves after a long, long dark winter that we've all endured.”

It will be really interesting to see what happens to the vaccination numbers in West Virginia. The governor may have an offbeat method for urging people to get their shots — like giving out guns and turning his dog into the vaccine mascot — but at least he's making an effort. Sadly, that's more than a lot of state leaders are doing.

It's still totally weird to give away guns in a country where gun violence is constant and mass shootings happen pretty much daily. But hey, at least he's trying to cure one health crisis.

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