The COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on mass shootings in six major US cities

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The COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on mass shootings in six major US cities

Category: Mass Shootings|Journal: Injury (full text)|Author: A Cavalea, A Marr, A Smith, A Tedesco, J Hunt, J Schoen, K Beiter, L Stuke, P Greiffenstein, P Scharf, T Fitzpatrick-Schmidt|Year: 2023


The COVID-19 pandemic has significant impacts on the US socioeconomic structure. Gun violence is a major public health issue and the effects on this area have not been well-elucidated. The objective of this study was to determine the impacts of the pandemic on mass shootings in six major United States cities with historically high rates of gun violence.


Mass shooting data were extracted from an open-source database, Gun Violence Archive. Mass shooting was defined as four or more people shot at a single event. Data from six cities with the highest incidence of mass shootings were analyzed in 2019 versus 2020 (Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and St. Louis). Geographic data were examined to assess changes in each city’s mass shooting geographic distribution over time. Quantitative changes were assessed using the Area Deprivation Index (ADI), and qualitative data were assessed using ArcGIS.


In 2020, the overall percentage of mass shootings increased by 46.7% though there was no change in the distribution of these events when assessed quantitatively (no change in average ADI) nor qualitatively (using ArcGIS). In the six cities analyzed, the total proportion of mass shooting events was unchanged during the pandemic (21.8% vs 20.6%, p = 0.64). Chicago, the US city with the highest incidence of mass shootings, did not experience a significant change in 2020 (n = 34/91, 37.3% vs. n = 53/126, 42.1%, p = 0.57). Baltimore had a significant decrease in mass shooting events (n = 18/91, 19.8% vs. 10/126, 7.9%, p = 0.01). The other four cities had no significant change in the number of mass shootings (p>0.05).


This study is the first to use ArcGIS technology to describe the patterns of mass shooting in six major US cities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of mass shootings in six US cities remained largely unchanged which suggests that changes in mass shootings is likely occurring in smaller cities. Future studies should focus on the changing patterns of homicides in at-risk communities and other possible social influences.

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