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How U.S. Firearm Violence Rose During First Year of COVID-19

The pandemic period was associated with a fifteen percent increase in firearm-related incidents, a thirty four percent increase in firearm-related nonfatal injuries, and a twenty eight percent increase in firearm-related deaths, a nationwide cross-sectional study of the U.S. by Public Health found. Leveraging data from nearly 300,000 firearm-related incidents across the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia between January 2016 and February 2021, Public Health evaluated changes in the burden of firearm violence associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The rate of firearm violence was higher during the pandemic period nationally and in several states, with the District of Columbia having the greatest number of incidents, nonfatal injuries, and deaths; and New York State and Minnesota exhibiting the largest relative increase.

In the U.S., the COVID-19 pandemic intensified some conditions that may contribute to firearm violence, and a surge in firearm sales during the pandemic has been reported. However, patterns of change in firearm violence in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic remain unclear. The report found that the pandemic period was associated with an initial small decrease in the rates of firearm-related incidents, coincident with the period when stay-at-home orders were implemented in many states. However, similar decreases were not evident in the rates of firearm-related nonfatal injuries or deaths, raising the possibility that the apparent reduced risk in firearm-related events early in the pandemic period might reflect a temporary reporting artifact. In the U.S. during the pandemic period of March 1, 2020, to February 28, 2021, there were 62,485 identified firearm-related incidents, 40,021 firearm-related nonfatal injuries, and 19,818 firearm-related deaths.


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