Sep 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Reported firearm injuries spiked in 2020

Data: Epic Health Research Network (; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Epic Health Research Network (; Chart: Axios Visuals

A new study found health care visits for gun injuries rose sharply last year during the pandemic.

Why it matters: The new data from electronic health records helps confirm media reports and preliminary data suggesting a surge in gun violence in many cities.

By the numbers: According to data compiled by the Epic Health Research Network, firearm injuries that resulted in a documented health care visit began spiking in the late spring of 2020 and peaked in October at 73% higher than the monthly average in 2018 and 2019.

  • After dipping in the late fall and early winter last year — while still remaining well above pre-pandemic averages — documented firearm injury rates surged again in the spring, with June 2021 levels 64% higher than in 2019.
  • People of color were particularly vulnerable — firearm injury visits increased by 76% for Hispanic patients and 89% for Black patients, while rising 40% for whites.

Between the lines: The initial surge coincided with the early summer protests over police violence and with a massive increase in gun purchases.

Background: EHRN began tracking firearm injuries at the request of the Chicago HEAL Initiative, a group of health care systems dedicated to curbing violence in vulnerable Chicago neighborhoods.

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