Gun deaths have increased during COVID-19, here's why

You'd think that during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many people were shut up in their homes, crime rates would have decreased. However, the opposite occurred.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when many people were locked up in their homes, you would think that crime rates would have decreased. But in the United States, the rate of gun deaths actually increased.

Gun homicide rate the highest it's been in 25 years

According to new data in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, nearly 35% more people were shot in the USA than the previous year. The gun homicide rate is the highest it’s been in the country for 25 years, since 1994.

The CDC has described firearm homicides and suicides in the USA as 'an ongoing and significant public health problem.' But what has caused the increase?

Why there’s been an increase in gun deaths during COVID-19  Maxim Hopman / Unsplash

Reasons for the increase in gun deaths

CDC expert Tom Simons said that one potential explanation for the rise in gun violence is 'stress factors related to the Covid 19 pandemic.' These included social isolation, job loss, insecure housing conditions, 'and difficulties in meeting daily expenses.'

The health agency's report also points out that the risk of violence in the country is connected to 'long-standing systemic inequality and structural racism.'

CDC researchers wrote in their report:

The COVID-19 pandemic might have exacerbated existing social and economic stressors that increase risk for homicide and suicide, particularly among certain racial and ethnic communities.
The increases in firearm homicide rates and persistently high firearm suicide rates in 2020, with increases among populations that were already at high risk, have widened disparities and heightened the urgency of actions that can have immediate and lasting benefits.

CDC representative Debra Houry said 'firearm deaths are preventable, not inevitable.' In order to prevent gun deaths, strategies to reduce inequality are required.

Houry has called for increased support for disadvantaged families to 'lift them out of poverty.' She also noted the 'promising' work of social workers who are reducing tensions in high-crime neighbourhoods.

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