US Gun violence increased during pandemic

Author(s): Jesslyn Thay , Date: 30 September 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a spike in violence-related deaths as the gun violence epidemic in the United States reaches new proportions, reports The Guardian newspaper.

Those most affected by the gun-related violence are often the most disadvantaged in society, and of those that are killed, the majority are young black and Latino men.

Overall, the United States recorded its largest annual increase in murders in six decades, with a nationwide increase in murders of 29.4 percent, according to new figures published by the FBI. The majority of murders and violent assaults in the United States involve a firearm.

The pandemic pressures: fear of death, social isolation, unemployment and the economic uncertainty are just a few reasons experts have given for the rise in gun-violence. When schools and colleges closed due to the pandemic, young people found themselves without structure and supervision becoming vulnerable to gang culture.

While violent crimes such as rape and armed robbery had decreased in the US over the course of the pandemic, the rate of murder, and also that of suicide by firearms had increased.

Rates of gun violence in major cities are at an all-time high, for example Chicago has seen 797 murder victims over the last 12 months – nearly every victim was shot, reports The Chicago Sun Times. Gun ownership is high among young black males, across the US overall firearm ownership is 120.5% - guns outnumber people.

While the number of those killed in mass shootings has decreased on account that large gatherings have been banned for fears of coronavirus transmission and non-essential shops, schools, and other places for the public to gather have been under restrictions.

The CDC reports that firearm injuries are significant public health problem, figures from before the pandemic showed there were 39,707 firearm-related deaths in the United States in 2019 – that’s about 109 people dying from a firearm-related injury each day

Of the thousands of gun-violence victims the vast majority are black or Latino, “homicide is the leading cause of death for non-Hispanic black or African American youth”, says the CDC. Death from gun violence also seems to a be substantial male health problem, with 86% of firearm deaths men, they also carry the burden of non-fatal firearm injuries too.

Gun violence is a nationwide epidemic, it is hoped that funding into research will help to identify where the cycle of violence can be broken and hopefully save thousands of young lives a year.

Some experts have linked the rise in gun violence to the rise in the use of opioids and other drugs, however it seems to be socio-economic reasons for the rise in gun-related deaths during the pandemic.

CDC’s approach to preventing firearm injuries focuses on three elements: providing data to inform action; conducting research and applying science to identify effective solutions; and promoting collaboration across multiple sectors to address the problem.


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