It is a bit counter-intuitive. With the decreased number of social gathering events, the USA has seen a dramatic increase in gun violence. Is this the shred of evidence that America’s social fabric is disintegrating? Or is it something bigger?
Let’s start with the facts. Mass shootings are defined as “an incident where four or more people are shot in a single shooting spree. This may include the shooter themself, or police shootings of civilians around the shooter.”
It would be my guess that with the cancellation of big public events, that mass shootings would be on the decline. The Las Vegas mass shooter had a concert to prey upon. Big gatherings are prime for the target of a mad man.
One would also imagine that the restrictions to large events would divert or discourage a would be shooter to attack an event like a Florida nightclub.
But alas, the numbers do not support that. The fact is that mass shootings are on the uprise in America since the onset of COVID-19. The data is scary.
Since the start of COVID-19 in late March, the number of mass shootings have doubled. Although the number of dead as kept pace, it is alarming that the number of wounded has increased by 4 times.
CBS news raised their concern. Firearm fatalities increased significantly in April (16 percent) and May (15 percent) compared to the same months in 2019, even while many Americans spent their days sheltered at home they state.
The increase in gun violence is particularly ravaging communities in urban areas. “You have increased unemployment, the stress of the virus, the stress of having to be at home in communities with high infection rates,” said Igor Volsky, director of Guns Down America. “All of that is like a pressure cooker.”
Some cities are being hit especially hard. In Cincinnati, homicides are more than doubling what they were in 2019. In Louisville, shootings are up 82 percent from 2019. The week after its stay-at-home order took effect, Philadelphia saw 40 shooting incidents, about twice what it typically sees. And Jacksonville, Fla. experienced 17 homicides in March, making it the deadliest March in 15 years.
In April, a there was a 72 percent increase in estimated total number of gun sales. The rush of new gun purchases coincided with reports of major increases in domestic violence calls to local police departments and domestic abuse hotlines. Forty-eight states are reporting increases in calls to police or domestic violence hotlines, with some counties seeing spikes as high as 70 percent (Los Angeles County) and 80 percent (Florida’s Treasure Coast) compared to the same month last year.
“This continued surge in gun sales is bringing new risks into American homes that will linger long after the pandemic,” Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, said in a statement. “The risks are particularly high for the millions of kids in homes with unsecured guns, women sheltering in place with abusers and anyone who is struggling psychologically during this crisis.”
America has an increasing gun-violence problem that has been forgotten during COVID-19 crisis. The health crisis has added extra pressure to an already tense social issue. Now the problem of gun violence is in the open. Yet, I don’t see evidence the current US administration giving a care as to the collateral damage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Let us hope a more holistic view of the American situation can emerge in November, 2020.