Changes in Gun Purchases After Mass Shootings

Bottom Line: For this analysis, researchers examined monthly data on U.S. background checks for gun purchases and permits from November 1998 through April 2016, and they looked for purchasing trends after mass shootings during that time. A total of 124 major mass shootings (5 or more individuals injured or killed) and nearly 234 million background checks occurred. Researchers report 26 of the shootings (21 percent) were associated with increases in gun purchases and 22 of the shootings (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. It is important to study the reasons underlying these changes to better understand the connections between gun violence and public opinion. A primary limitation of the study is the inability to draw causal conclusions from the findings.

Authors: Douglas J. Wiebe, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and coauthors


(doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.1736)