Gun Purchases Often Go up After Mass Shootings—but in 22 Cases Since 1998, Sales Actually Went Down

Gun Purchases Often Go up After Mass Shootings—but in 22 Cases Since 1998, Sales Actually Went Down

Gun Rights

Gun violence in the United State is a huge public health crisis, causing more than 30,000 deaths every year. Mass shootings account for less than 1 percent of these fatalities, but they are thought to play important role in shaping public opinion. Now, researchers have found that around 20 percent of mass shooting events are followed by significant increases in gun purchases, but also, surprisingly, another 20 percent or so are associated with decreases in firearm sales, according to a study published in the journal JAMA Network Open . While the authors stressed they cannot draw causal conclusions from the findings—meaning the study doesn’t prove that the mass shootings caused these changes in gun purchases—the results do increase our understanding of the public’s response to such events, which could in turn help guide public health planning regarding firearms. To understand how gun purchasing patterns are affected by mass shootings, the researchers examined data on U.S. background checks for gun purchases between November 1998 and April 2016. In this time there were a total of 234 million background checks and 124 major mass shootings—those where five or more individuals were killed or injured. Of these, 26 of the shootings (21 percent) were associated with increases in gun purchases and 22 (17.7 percent) were associated with decreases in gun purchases. “Shootings receiving extensive media coverage were associated with increases in handgun purchases, whereas high-fatality shootings were more likely to be associated with decreases in handgun purchases,” the authors wrote in the […]

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