New Study Suggests Connection Between COVID-19 Shutdowns and Gun Violence in Philadelphia

A new study released by Philadelphia health professionals reveals that coronavirus lockdown measures correlate with a drastic increase in gun violence in the city.

The research was organized by Temple University Trauma Surgeon Dr. Jessica Beard and Assistant Professor of Surgery and Trauma Surgeon Dr. Zoë Maher, and University of Pennsylvania Assistant Professor of Nursing Dr. Sara F. Jacoby.

Dr. Beard and her colleagues were inspired to conduct the study when they noted the decrease of other trauma injuries at the hospital, but no decrease in gun shot wounds.

“We noticed in our daily practice of trauma surgery at temple, an increase in the rate of gun violence and even though…with the stay at home orders and other containment policies, it seemed like… gun violence was notably either kind of the same or increasing,” said Dr. Beard.

Data was collected from Philadelphia Police Department’s registry of shooting victims beginning on January 1, 2016, through November 26, 2020. Over this span of time, 7,159 people experienced gun shot injuries. Prior to the first shutdown of businesses taking place on March 16, 2020, the average number of gun shot victims per week stood at 24.9. After this date, this average climbed to 46.4, and has steadily increased since.

In the study, it was hypothesized that another dramatic increase in gun violence would occur after the killing of George Floyd last May. Instead, the numbers increased at the same steady rate they had been.

Dr. Beard maintains that these numbers indicate gun violence first and foremost, is a public health problem.

“When you see something like containment policies that likely affect the poorest members of our Philadelphia Community the hardest, then be so strongly associated with an increase in gun violence, that really shows you that gun violence is an economic problem and a public health problem”.

The implementation of change on this begins with reframing the problem to the general public and to the community, according to Dr. Beard.

“How the media… chooses and has historically reported on gun violence has a lot to do with the way that the public understands gun violence”.

Dr. Beard and her colleagues have taken to advocating for this change at the state level in Harrisburg with the Coalition of Trauma Surgeons for Firearm Injury.

Dr. Beard and a team of researchers have conducted a similar study a few years, analyzing mass shootings in Philadelphia.

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