Just this morning, Newsweek published an article covering the Gun Violence Archives’ latest claim that mass shootings are up 35 percent in 2020 compared to mass shootings in 2019:
Mass shootings in the U.S. have increased by 35 percent since 2019 despite widespread closures of schools, businesses and many public places due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2019 the Gun Violence Archive (GVA) found that there were 417 mass shootings over the course of the whole year in the U.S. But in 2020 there has already been 562 mass shootings with 6 weeks left until the end of the year.
The number also comes as a huge rise compared to mass shooting numbers from the last five years. The GVA recorded 269 in 2014, 335 in 2015, 382 in 2016, 346 in 2017, and 337 in 2018.
It’s worth noting Newsweek did admit GVA doesn’t have the best methods of tracking what they refer to as “mass shootings:”
. . . the research organization has an open definition of mass shootings as four or more people shot and/or killed in a single incident at the same general time and location but not including the shooter.
GVA does not “exclude, set apart, caveat, or differentiate” victims based upon the circumstances in which they were shot – including defensive gun use – so their mass shooting data is not limited to the often widely publicized incidents that occur in public places like schools and restaurants.
From the Gun Violence Archive website:
Rather than just collecting incidents of death, GVA also catalogs incidents where a victim was injured by shooting or by a victim who was the subject of an armed robber or home invader. Incidents of defensive gun use, home owners who stop a home invasion, store clerks who stop a robbery, individuals who stop an assault or rape with a gun are also collected.
The overall goal is to provide information on most types of gun violence, and gun crime, no matter where it is on the political table.
What does this cover? Well, among other things the GVA tracks the following:
. . . murder/suicides, hate crimes, domestic violence, gang involvement, drug involvement, police action, robbery, defensive use, accidents, brandishing, and nearly 120 other possible variables.
. . . all types of shootings are included…accidental, children shooting themselves, murders, armed robberies, familicide, mass shootings, DGU, home invasion, drivebys and everything else.
Also interesting is GVA notes their methods of tracking shootings broadened in July 2019. Prior to that they were utilizing 2,500 to 3,000 sources and now they use more than 7,500 sources to track their definition of mass shootings.
Newsweek went on to hypothesize about gun violence in 2020 by quoting Dr. Dewey Cornell, forensic clinical psychologist and Professor of Education in the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia:
[Dr. Cornell] told Newsweek there are two hypotheses that could explain the rise in numbers, namely an increase in domestic violence during lockdown and more violence around demonstrations.
“My first hypothesis would be that there is an increase in domestic violence,” he said. “With so many people confined to their homes, there may be greater stress and conflict that is generating these incidents.” He added that firearms in the home during a pandemic is “a serious risk factor.”
Cornell added that his second hypothesis points towards the numerous incidents of rioting and protests where shootings occurred, saying “the violence around demonstrations is probably a secondary contributing factor.”
What do y’all think? Has there been an increase in “mass shootings” in 2020 and, if so, is it domestic violence, “mostly peaceful demonstrations,” or what do you think is the greatest contributing factor?