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Gun deaths rose 28% during COVID-19 pandemic

Gun deaths across the U.S. increased by 28 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published by JAMA Network Open.

The first-of-its kind study also found a 15 percent increase in overall firearm-related incidents and a 34 percent increase in nonfatal gun injuries between March 2020 and February 2021.

The 50-state study, which tracked gun data nationwide between 2016 and 2021, found  an initial decline in the number of gun incidents at the outset of the epidemic—correlating with lockdowns and shelter-in-place mandates—but then a surge between June and October 2020.

“The broad public health importance of our findings is that the COVID-19 pandemic affected population health far beyond the direct morbidity and mortality caused by infection with the novel Coronavirus itself,” the researchers reported.

“The public health consequences of the pandemic also included a significant increase in firearm-related morbidity and mortality. This may in part explain the finding that the United States experienced much greater excess all-cause mortality than other high-mortality countries.”

The statistics translated to a total of 62, 485 identified firearm-related incidents between March 2020 and February 2021 in all 50 states and the District of Columbia; 40, 021 firearm-related nonfatal injuries, and 19, 818 firearm-related deaths.

The most pronounced increase in gun violence during the spike period occurred in New York and Minnesota. The highest overall increase in gun homicide from 2019 to 2020 occurred in New York (74 percent) and Kentucky (70 percent).

“Our finding of excess firearm incidents associated with the pandemic is consistent with localized findings from most prior studies,” the study said.

“For example, using data from city police departments, as of April 4, 2020….shooting incidents increased 18.6 percent in New York, 6 percent in Chicago, and 10.3 percent in Los Angeles compared with 2018.”

More than 500 000 deaths were directly attributable to COVID-19 in the first year of the pandemic.

This report was first published by The Crime Report.

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The highest overall increase in gun homicide from 2019 to 2020 occurred in New York and Kentucky.