May 9, 2020 - Health

Number of mass shootings drops in April as Americans stay home

A cyclist rides past the Martin B. Retting, Inc. guns store

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The U.S. saw a 24% year-over-year decline in the number of mass shootings in April, as the coronavirus kept people largely at home and businesses shuttered, according to a Bloomberg News data analysis.

Yes, but, via Axios' Marisa Fernandez: While mass shootings may have decreased, gun violence in some cities surged. The U.S. logged nearly 2,100 gun deaths between March 1 and April 19, 6% more than the same period in the past three years, per aggregated data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive.

  • Firearm sales have surged during the pandemic. March was the second-busiest month ever for gun sales, per the New York Times, and Axios' Stef Kight reports that the FBI processed 3.7 million gun background checks in March, more than any previous month.

The big picture: A mass shooting is defined as a single incident wherein four or more people are shot, not including the shooter, Bloomberg notes, citing Gun Violence Archive. They typically drive the national conversation on gun violence, but the focus is shifting on how gun violence has manifest itself during the pandemic.

The state of play: April's drop in mass shootings demonstrates a change from March, in which the number of shootings, deaths and injuries increased when compared to a year earlier.

  • In April 2020, there were 25 mass shootings that left 22 dead and 89 wounded.
  • In April 2019, there were 33 mass shootings that left 25 dead and 130 injuries.
"It took a pandemic and it took people being completely disrupted and forced to sit home all day and not go outside — and be terrified of going outside — to see a drop in mass shootings. I can think all of us can agree that this is no way we want to continue to live our lives."
— Kyleanne Hunter, vice president of programs for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, per Bloomberg

Go deeper: U.S. still has a gun violence problem despite coronavirus lockdowns

Go deeper