During pandemic lockdown, data shows U.S. mass shootings went up

It may appear as if the pandemic put the brakes on mass shootings. But in reality, mass shootings kept occurring during the coronavirus lockdown. They just weren't out in public as much.

"The overlying trend of gun violence has been moving in a bad direction both in 2020 and in 2021," says John Donohue, a Stanford University law professor who studies gun violence and mass shootings.

"The public mass shootings were suppressed in 2020. Now as we are coming out of the pandemic you see more of them," says Donohue.

"The pre-existing condition that somehow that somehow pushed aside last year has raised its ugly head again this year," said Governor Gavin Newsom.

The Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit that tracks shootings, reports 610 mass shootings last year, almost 200 more than in 2019.

The San Jose shooting Wednesday is the 232nd this year.

"It begs the damn question, what the hell is going in the United States of America. What the hell is wrong with us," Newsom asked.

A mass shooting is defined as an incident where four or more people are killed or injured, not counting the shooter.

Experts attribute the rise in shootings last year to an increase in gun sales, stress over unemployment during the lockdown, and police departments unable to implement anti-violence programs because of COVID.

Experts say it is difficult to fully understand what provokes someone into a mass shooting because so many kill themselves, after killing others.

"Some of them are quite suicidal or profoundly antagonistic to the world. And this is the way they are going to right the wrong they perceive they have suffered," says Donohue.

"It is episodic and individual. That makes it both less predictable and very difficult to comprehend in terms of behavioral theory," says UC Berkeley law professor Franklin Zimring.