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Study Shows Gun Injuries Increased During the COVID-19 Pandemic

A new federal study found a surge in gunfire injuries during the COVID-19 pandemic when the number of people fatally shooting each other and themselves increased. The number of people injured by gunfire was nearly 40% higher in 2020 and 2021, compared with 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a study published Thursday. In 2022, gun injuries tapered off, but were still 20% higher than before the pandemic. Gun injuries rose similarly for men and women over the past three years, while the largest proportional increase occurred among children under 15, a subset that remains a small fraction of the overall problem, reports the Associated Press. Experts say the CDC gun injury study, which uses data from hospital emergency departments, helps provide a more comprehensive picture of gun violence than simply measuring homicides and suicides. “Hospitals are a great place to keep the pulse on who is being shot, and when and where,” said Catherine Barber, a senior injury researcher at Harvard University’s school of public health.

The CDC study results came from more than 2,200 hospital emergency departments, the bulk of the nation’s ERs, said Thomas Simon an author of the new study. The study suggests that the number of gunshot-related ER visits at hospitals rose from around 50,000 in 2019 to more than 72,000 in 2020. Because more than a quarter of U.S. hospital emergency departments were not included in the study, the actual number is likely significantly higher. Experts believe a variety of factors contributed to the pandemic surge in gun violence, including a rise in guns purchased, more time spent inside homes where guns are present, and mental health struggles stemming from social isolation and economic hardships. The gun violence problem was thrust into the national conversation again this week after a shooter killed 3 children and 3 adults at a Christian school in Tennessee. “We are in a week when people are paying attention to this issue again, sadly, after a mass shooting in Nashville,” said Nina Vinik of Project Unloaded, an advocacy group focused on the impact of gun violence on children.


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