Has COVID had an effect on mass violence and shootings?

With states slowly going back to normal in America it could cause mass shootings to increase.

It has almost become normal to hear about some type of shooting occurring, or having occurred, somewhere in the country while tuning into the news or scrolling through social media. In the methodology section of their website, Gun Violence Archive states that a mass shooting is classified when “four or more people are shot or killed in a single incident, not involving the shooter.” 

With the country slowly opening up due to COVID vaccines becoming more available, why are we seeing a sudden spike of shootings on the news?

Being in quarantine the past year people have become accustomed to an isolated lifestyle, but even while in quarantine violence still ensued. And in his article, “Why Has Gun Violence Increased in the United States?” Rich Barlow points out, “[A]s COVID-19 spread across the United States last year, murders spiked 21 percent, a one-year record.” 

Now, with states and counties slowly moving out of the quarantine stage, we could be seeing issues relating to gun violence going back to the way it was before. That, with the additional with built-up anger due to everything that has happened in the last year, people are at their breaking points. For some individuals, the way that they are dealing with this is violence. 

Barlow continues to note that the “gun homicide rate in US cities is likely to have increased by 35 to 40 percent from 2019 to 2020, which would be the biggest single-year increase on record.” 

“The US has seen at least 147 mass shootings in 2021, according to data from the GVA, a non-profit based in Washington,” said Madeline Holcombe in “The US has reported at least 45 mass shootings in the last month.” From March 16 on, there have been 45 incidents involving shootings in the country. 

This might come as a surprise to some because only recently have the news stations been reporting the shootings that are occuring. This might be because, as a society, we have gotten so used to these happening that we don’t need coverage on all the shootings, just the ones that are getting the spotlight because they were taken to the most extreme or a prominent figure was involved.  

If we think back on all of the mental issues that COVID has caused individuals, such as heightened anxiety in social situations and depression, the sudden change in lifestyles could be very hard for some. 

Joan Stephenson states, “More than 2 in 5 US residents report struggling with mental or behavioral health issues associated with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, including anxiety, depression, increased substance use, and suicidal thoughts, according to new findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” in her article “CDC Report Reveals ‘Considerably Elevated’ Mental Health Toll from COVID-19 Stresses.” 

If the country was more concerned about its peoples’ mental health, then there’s the possibility that these shootings would diminish in frequency.

There are people who do use guns for hunting purposes and for a last act of self-defense. These individuals are using the guns the way that they were intended and are storing them correctly. No matter how much control people want to put on guns when it comes to purchasing them, if people want them they will get them one way or another. 

What the country really needs to do is start taking mental health seriously and stop making these tragedies into big news stories. If U.S. media outlets stopped making these shootings into week long stories, then it will take away the fetish of violence that our country seems to have.