Warm days contribute to gun violence surge in the US

Credit: Steve Woods / Unsplash

From Philadelphia to Portland, cities across the United States are experiencing spikes in gun violence on warm days.

Researchers have begun to explore heat as a contributor to firearm violence, but current research on this subject is limited, focusing only on a few cities.

In a study from Boston University and elsewhere, scientists did a first-of-its-kind analysis of heat-attributable shootings as a nationwide problem.

The team utilized publicly available data from the Gun Violence Archive, a national repository of gun violence information.

They analyzed daily temperatures and more than 116,000 shootings from 2015 to 2020, in the top 100 US cities with the highest number of assault-related shootings in the country.

They found a consistent link between higher temperatures and a higher risk of shootings in 100 of the country’s most populated cities.

The team found that nearly 7% of shootings can be attributed to above-average daily temperatures, even after adjusting for seasonal patterns.

The findings showed that the Northeast and Midwest regions experience the sharpest increases in gun violence on hotter-than-normal days.

The study provides strong evidence that daily temperature plays a meaningful role in gun violence fluctuations.

Gun violence is the leading cause of death among children and teens, and this violence has worsened substantially during the pandemic.

As climate change threatens to raise daily temperatures even more, the researchers say these findings underscore the need for ongoing policies and programs that acclimate communities to heat and mitigate the risk of heat-attributable gun violence.

This study highlights the importance of heat adaptation strategies that can be used all year, as well as a need for specific regional awareness and attention in regions where this link is strongest.

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The study was conducted by Dr. Jonathan Jay et al and published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

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