Mass shootings increased during the COVID-19 pandemic starting in May 2020, a new study finds.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of Chicago looked at mass shootings in 2020 compared to previous years.
They found that 88 shootings occurred in July 2020 in comparison with 42 in July 2019 and 45 in July 2018.
In addition, an average of three more people were injured each day in 2020 mass shootings compared to previous years.
The team says the findings suggest that mass shootings may be influenced by social and economic factors.
Mass shootings rose dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study finds
The study found that the U.S. saw 88 mass shootings in July 2020 amid the Covid pandemic, twice as many as July 2019 and 2018
The U.S. sees more mass shootings than almost any other country in the world.
According to one analysis by NPR, the U.S. saw four gun violence deaths for every 100,000 people in 2019 – about 100 times higher than the gun violence death rates in South Korea, the UK, and other developed nations.
Experts attribute America’s high gun violence rate to limited gun restrictions, little investment in community institutions that may prevent violence and other issues.
Mass shootings in the U.S. often occur in response to heightened social tension – which has been common throughout the pandemic.
A new study shows that, indeed, mass shootings increased nationwide in 2020 after Covid hit the country.
The research, published on Thursday in JAMA Network Open, was conducted by Pablo Peña, economist at the University of Chicago and Anupam Jena, healthcare policy expert at Harvard Medical School.
The researchers utilized public data on mass shootings from Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that compiles gun violence incidents from thousands of law enforcement, media, and government sources.
Gun Violence Archive specifically defines mass shootings as ‘shootings in which 4 or more people are killed or injured, not counting the perpetrator.’
This dataset goes back to 2014, allowing the researchers to compare gun violence in prior years to 2020 and 2021.
The researchers compared shooting numbers month-by-month, going from January 2014 to June 2021. They also compared numbers for 882 U.S. cities included in the dataset.
Mass shootings clearly increased in May 2020, the researchers found.
This increase was particularly intense in summer 2020. In July 2020, the U.S. saw 88 mass shootings – compared to 42 in July 2019 and 45 in July 2018.
In other words, mass shootings doubled from the summers of 2018 and 2019 to summer 2020.
In addition, the researchers’ analysis showed that, following mid-April 2020, the U.S. saw an average of 0.78 more mass shootings every day compared to prior years.
The country also saw an average of 0.49 additional people killed each day, and 3.4 additional people injured over this time period.
The researchers found that mass shootings increased in all types of U.S. cities in 2020 – including those with the lowest mass shooting numbers prior to the pandemic.
2020 saw more mass shootings than previous years, with increases in all types of cities included in the researchers’ analysis
Overall, the researchers estimated that, from April 2020 to June 2021, there were 343 more mass shootings than previous years’ numbers would expect them to anticipate.
These shootings included 217 additional people killed and 1,498 additional people injured.
These findings align with other studies showing increased gun violence and other crimes during the pandemic.
In Buffalo, New York, for example, a January 2021 study found an increase in fatal shootings during spring 2020 lockdowns and a long-term increase in non-fatal shootings.
The pandemic also led to increased drug use, driving increased overdose deaths in 2020.
These tragic increases may be consequences of early pandemic lockdowns, as well as increased economic and social pressures in 2020 and 2021 overall.
‘This study found large increases in mass shootings in the US with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic consistent with the notion that mass shootings, an extreme form of violence, may be influenced by social and economic factors,’ the researchers wrote.
The study’s limitations include its use of a gun violence repository, rather than a comprehensive national database, and its focus on one specific type of gun violence.