In an article published in the Annals of Surgery titled, Domestic Violence and Safe Storage of Firearms in the COVID-19 Era, investigators call attention to some troubling secondary effects of the pandemic; namely, rising domestic violence, brought on by the necessity to stay at home and the stress experienced by those who have lost their livelihoods.
In the paper, Thomas K. Duncan, DO, et al. consider the relationship between firearm availability and intimate partner homicides, fearing increased incidence of violence and death during the pandemic without attempts at prevention.
Countries–including the U.S., China, Spain, France and others–are already documenting a rise in domestic violence—including that perpetrated against women, children and the elderly. With data showing a steep rise in pre-sale background checks for firearm purchases in March 2020, the investigators fear more firearms are finding their way into homes at precisely the moment when firearm safety classes are unavailable and added stressors due to the pandemic are turning homes with unsecured handguns into even more high risk environments.
The investigators urge gun owners—especially new gun owners—to complete firearm safety instruction online, and they recommend dissemination of the ACS safe storage video. They also recommend that those with immediate fears contact the nearest Family Justice Center (FJC).
FJCs and similar programs offer comprehensive services for victims of violence, helping them and their families navigate the legal system, health care services, law enforcement, counseling, temporary housing and more. Particularly during the COVID-19 era, when many organizations are closed or thinly staffed, the FJC model provides a streamlined, one-stop experience.
Echoing a sentiment from the American College of Surgeons, the investigators believe, “The only thing more tragic than a death….is a death that could have been prevented.” Co-authors include, among others, A. Britton Christmas, MD and AAST President; Ronald Stewart, MD and ACSCOT Medical Director; and Eileen M. Bulger, MD and ACSCOT Chair. AAST and ACSCOT are Coalition for National Trauma Research member organizations.