March 18, 2020 Blog

COVID-19 and Gun Violence: Two Public Health Crises

In these uncertain times, every day brings new changes as we adapt to try to fight COVID-19. Unfortunately, even as daily life in the United States has been upended, we have been reminded that one public health crisis does not stop for another. 

Just days into the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, five people, including one police officer, were killed in a senseless rampage in Springfield, Missouri. That same day, in Moncure, North Carolina, seven people were killed in a domestic violence mass murder-suicide. 

These tragedies serve as stark reminders that the gun violence epidemic persists. Gun violence is a public health crisis that claims close to 40,000 lives in the United States each year. It will not stop in the face of a pandemic. In fact, it could get worse. 

Across the country there are reports of increased gun purchases in response to COVID-19. And anecdotal reports suggest large numbers of first-time buyers. 

Research shows that the presence of guns makes a home less safe, not more. And the risks associated with guns in the home may only be exacerbated by the steps necessary to fight COVID-19. 

As families are home together for extended periods of time, the risk of domestic violence increases. As everyone practices social distancing, feelings of social isolation and helplessness—risk factors for suicide—could be exacerbated. And as millions of children are home from school, the risk of unintentional shootings grows

At the Alliance, we fight every day to prevent gun violence in all its forms. We will continue working tirelessly to implement lifesaving policies and conduct vital public education to keep our communities safe during these tough times.

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