Arms sales have increased from 2019 to 2020, and two online trackers have shown that this year’s number of mass shootings and the associated injuries and deaths will compete with last year’s. And this despite the COVID-19 locks and the additional restrictions on people’s access to public spaces.
Data from the Gun Violence Archive (GVA) shows that in 2019 there were 417 mass executions with 1,707 injured and 465 dead. By comparison, in 2020 there have been 500 mass shootings with 2,089 injured and 385 dead.
Data from the Mass Shooting Tracker (MST) show that in 2019 there were 503 mass shootings with 1,902 wounded and 628 dead. For comparison: In 2020 there were 589 mass shootings with 2,374 wounded and 530 dead so far.
GVA is a not-for-profit company that tracks and double-checks information on shootings from more than 7,500 sources, including local and state police, media, data aggregates and government data. MST is an organization that obtains data on mass shootings from a variety of sources and verifies it against media reports.
Both GVA and MST define a mass shooting as a mass shooting in which four or more people are shot or killed in a single shooting. The GVA data does not include shootings in which multiple shooters exchange shots. Therefore the MST figures are slightly higher.
Some have criticized the GVA and MTA’s definition of “mass shootings” because it is too broad to include cases of gang violence and domestic violence, which some believe are different from incidents where a single shooter or accomplice shoots strangers in a public place, according to the Washington Post.
The federal government currently does not prosecute mass executions, nor does it have a standard definition to even define what a mass execution is, the Post continued. The federal government does follow up on information about mass killings that occur with various weapons, but it only follows up on such incidents when three or more people die, and it rules out incidents that result in injuries but not deaths.
Weapons sales have soared this year compared to last year, with background checks on weapons purchases increasing 72 percent between January and July 2020 compared to the same period last year, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. In July 2020, the foundation told NPR that 40 percent of all firearms were sold to first-time firearms owners.
In a July report, the Brookings Institute, a D.C. based think tank, said that 3 million more firearms were sold between March and June 2020 than the year before. The Institute said the increase could be a possible result of the COVID 19 closure and civil unrest following the murder of Black Minneapolis-based George Floyd by a white police officer.
Washington Newsday contacted the GVA and MST for comment….