Importance: Violence is a significant public health problem that has become entwined with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic .
Objective: To describe individuals' concerns regarding violence in the context of the pandemic, experiences of pandemic-related unfair treatment, prevalence of and reasons for firearm acquisition, and changes in firearm storage practices due to the pandemic . Design, Setting, and Participants: This survey study used data from the 2020 California Safety and Well-being Survey, a probability-based internet survey of California adults conducted from July 14 to 27 , 2020 . Respondents came from the Ipsos KnowledgePanel, an online research panel with members selected using address-based sampling methods . Responses were weighted to be representative of the adult population of California . Main Outcomes and Measures: Topics included worry about violence for oneself before and during the pandemic; concern about violence for someone else due to a pandemic-related loss; experiences of unfair treatment attributed to the pandemic; firearm and ammunition acquisition due to the pandemic; and changes in firearm storage practices due to the pandemic .
Results: Of 5018 invited panel members, 2870 completed the survey (completion rate , 57 %). Among respondents (52.3% [95% CI , 49.5% -55.0 %] women; mean [SD] age , 47.9 [16.9] years; 41.9% [95% CI , 39.3% -44.6 %] White individuals), self-reported worry about violence for oneself was significantly higher during the pandemic for all violence types except mass shootings, ranging from a 2.8 percentage point increase for robbery (from 65.5% [95% CI , 62.8% -68.0 %] to 68.2% [95% CI , 65.6% -70.7 %]; P = .008) to a 5.6 percentage point increase for stray bullet shootings (from 44.5% [95% CI , 41.7% -47.3 %] to 50.0% [47.3% -52.8 %]; P <.001). The percentage of respondents concerned that someone they know might intentionally harm themselves was 13.1% (95% CI , 11.5% -15.3 %). Of those , 7.5% (95% CI , 4.5% -12.2 %) said it was because the other person had experienced a pandemic-related loss . An estimated 110â¯000 individuals (2.4% [95% CI , 1.1% -5.0 %] of firearm owners in the state) acquired a firearm due to the pandemic, including 47â¯000 new owners (43.0% [95% CI , 14.8% -76.6 %] of those who had acquired a firearm). Of owners who stored at least 1 firearm in the least secure way , 6.7% (95% CI , 2.7% -15.6 %) said they had adopted this unsecure storage practice in response to the pandemic . Conclusions and Relevance: In this analysis of findings from the 2020 California Safety and Well-being Survey, the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with increases in self-reported worry about violence for oneself and others, increased firearm acquisition, and changes in firearm storage practices . Given the impulsive nature of many types of violence, short-term crisis interventions may be critical for reducing violence-related harm.