TOP 10 ways the pandemic intersects with gun violence in the U.S.

  1. Without adequate regulation and education, more guns in our communities–especially among first-time buyers–will just increase the public health and human rights crisis of gun violence. Many nonessential government programs are currently shuttered or operating on reduced capacity. For example, handgun safety courses in some places have been canceled due to COVID-19, and requirements for training prior to permit application are being waived in certain circumstances. This means that more people will be armed with deadly weapons without access to safe use and storage training.

  2. Online retailer Ammo.com reported a 68% increase in sales from mid-February 2020 through mid-March 2020. As more people are self-isolating and unable to purchase guns at physical locations, these numbers may only increase—and in many states, people at risk of misusing firearms can buy guns online without going through a background check.

  3. Over 4.5 million children in the U.S. live in homes with access to a loaded and unlocked gun. With school closed for over 43 million K-12 students in the U.S.—and many families struggling to provide adequate childcare—the risk of accidental shootings could increase. All firearms should be safely and securely stored in a locked location with ammunition stored separately.

  4. Varying levels of quarantines, curfews, mandatory work from home, or other self-isolation guidance may mean that domestic violence survivors are confined in close quarters with their abusers, and the presence of guns in the home greatly amplifies this danger. Women living with a gun in the home are three – five times more likely to be murdered than those with no gun in the home.

  5. While suicide is a heat-of-the-moment event in response to an acute crisis, the availability of firearms and their lethal nature greatly increase the risk of a fatal outcome. Social isolation, economic uncertainty and generally heightened anxiety as a result of the current crisis, combined with easy access to guns, may increase the already rising rate of suicides by firearm in the U.S.

  6. In approximately 18 states and D.C. that have  Extreme Risk Protection Orders, loved ones can ask the court to temporarily remove a weapon from someone proven to be at risk of harming themselves or others,

  7. Hate crimes in the U.S. were already on the rise before COVID-19, and the FBI estimates that guns are involved in approximately 8,500 hate crimes each year. Reports of the virus originating in China have spurned xenophobic attacks in the U.S. and around the world. This wave of bigotry—especially combined with the rush to purchase guns—may increase hate violence and must be closely monitored.    

  8. Nearly 40,000 people lose their lives due to gun violence every year, and an additional estimated 133,000 people are shot and survive, requiring both immediate and long-term medical care. Victims of gun violence who are shot during this pandemic will require emergency care, putting additional strain on hospitals and health care providers already struggling to cope with the scope of COVID-19.

  9. Gun homicides in the U.S. disproportionately impact communities of color, with African Americans being ten times more likely to be the victims of gun homicides than white Americans and gun homicides being the leading cause of death among black men ages 15–34. Government-imposed lockdowns to stem the COVID-19 pandemic and public panic have created a nationwide crisis impacting food access, health care access, lost wages, and increased anxiety about public and personal safety.

    The causes of gun violence in communities of color are multi-faceted and there are deep-seated issues around poverty, discrimination, and economic, social and cultural rights which may be amplified with the increased number of firearms, concerns about safety and limited access to physical and mental health care in the wake of this pandemic.

    These issues are also amplified in the undocumented community struggling with food insecurity, little or no access to health care, fear of Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids, and limited or no employment benefits that allow for leave.

  10. The causes of gun violence in communities of color are multi-faceted and there are deep-seated issues around poverty, discrimination, and economic, social and cultural rights which may be amplified with the increased number of firearms, concerns about safety and limited access to physical and mental health care in the wake of this pandemic. These issues are also amplified in the undocumented community struggling with food insecurity, little or no access to health care, fear of Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids, and limited or no employment benefits that allow for leave.

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