US Gun Sales Rose After Sandy Hook Massacre

Friday, 08 Dec, 2017

They compared that to data on background checks, Google searches for "buy gun" as a proxy for gun sales and searches for "clean gun" to account for people taking their guns out of storage.

What's happening: After mass shootings, particularly ones that raise the specter of gun control legislation, it's well documented that gun purchases rise, though the trend appears to have stopped since the election of a congress and president that are against gun control. The study found that accidental gun deaths increased, but the surge in gun sales had nearly no effect on homicides and suicides that were intentionally committed - and that make up the lion's share of gun deaths in America.

There was a fourfold increase in accidental gun deaths involving children in states that had the largest gun sales increases following Sandy Hook, compared with states that had modest sales increases, the findings showed. That it should lead to a 27% increase in accidental firearm deaths and a 64% increase among children is "astounding", he wrote. A large jump in accidental deaths in both adults and children occurred during that time. The overall numbers, of course, obviously pointed out the fact that the country with the most guns in the entire world also had the most gun-related deaths, but there hadn't been a study on this particular phenomenon until now.

Among those putting together the gathering are the Livingston County chapter of Michigan Moms Demand Action, St. Paul's Episcopal Church and the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence.

Levine said that he and McKnight made a decision to do the study after seeing data in an article in The New York Times that showed a dramatic surge in gun purchases after Sandy Hook and again after 14 people were gunned down on 2 December 2015 at a public health department Christmas party in San Bernardino, California.

Essentially, the United States faces a conundrum in dealing with gun violence.

"If guns were stored properly at all times, we would not observe this result", Levine said in a statement. This is considered a statistically significant increase during a time in which, the authors estimate, 3 million additional guns were sold beyond the general rate at which people typically buy guns.

The findings were published December 8 in the journal Science. This is one of the first studies to link those legislative battles and gun sale trends to accidental deaths. "The difference between 0 and 1 is enormous". "If guns were stored all the time properly all the time, even if there were more guns, there would be no more accidents".

The call for gun control backfired. Because the authors are limited by the lack of reliable data on USA gun ownership, she says, "they do something smart". "Again, keep in mind, it is only one study".

"They find a pretty dramatic increase in accidental gun deaths in the five months following Sandy Hook", says Christopher Poliquin, a graduate student at Harvard Business School who studies the patterns underlying gun violence. They tell gun owners that liberals are about to vote on a new law to take away their guns, driving those owners into buying yet more guns. "For example, if they were less experienced gun owners, then they might be at greater risk" of accidents, she says.

Google searches using the terms "buy gun" - including phrases like "where can I buy a gun?" - and "clean gun", meaning "how often should I clean my gun?" also spiked after Sandy Hook, and that was especially trueon the days Obama talked about gun control.

Levine and McKnight show that gun sales themselves spiked as a result.

But that flood of new guns put people in harm's way rather than adding to their safety and security, a new study reports.

"It also shows the unintended consequences of public policy", said Levine, noting that it wasn't the shooting itself that caused an increase in gun sales and deaths but the political debate over potential legislation. But because so many other factors influence gun violence, it's extremely hard to sort out any trend, says Levine. They divided US states into two groups: those where more than 1000 additional guns were sold per 100,000 residents over the 5-month period, and those with fewer sales.

When looking at state data, Levine and McKnight found that the states with the biggest spikes in gun sales also saw the highest spikes in accidental death rates.