Firearm Violence Surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Reopening Phenomenon

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Firearm Violence Surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Reopening Phenomenon

Category: Behavior|Journal: Journal of Surgical Research (full text)|Author: A Grigorian, B Sargent, C de Virgilio, C Kuza, J Nahmias, L Swentek, M Donnelly, S Schubl|Year: 2023


Past research has demonstrated a “reopening phenomenon” of increased firearm violence associated with the initial lifting of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic-related restrictions after the first wave. Now, with widespread societal reemergence from stay-at-home measures, we hypothesize another spike in firearm violence in the United States (US). Thus, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the trends in firearm violence before and after extensive community reopenings during the COVID-19 pandemic.



The Gun Violence Archive was utilized to collect data on daily firearm violence incidents, injuries, and deaths as well as on types of firearm violence. Mann–Whitney U-tests were performed for trends and types of firearm violence “before” (12/14/20-4/9/21) versus “after” (4/10/21-7/31/21) widespread societal reopening in the US. Additional analyses also sought to compare the after reopening time-period to historical data (2017-2020) of similar calendar dates, to better control for possible annual/seasonal variation.



Median daily firearm violence incidents (153 versus 176, P < 0.001), injuries (89 versus 121, P < 0.001) and deaths (54 versus 58, P < 0.001) increased from before versus after reopening. Compared to all historical years, in the after reopening time-period there were consistent increases in total as well as mass shooting incidents/injuries/deaths (all P < 0.05).



Firearm violence incidents, injuries, and deaths increased after societal reemergence from the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, there has been an increase in mass shootings despite a relative lull initially brought on by the pandemic. This suggests the “reopening phenomenon” has worsened an already substantial national firearm epidemic.

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