What Shootings Like Sandy Hook Say About Americans And Guns

What Shootings Like Sandy Hook Say About Americans And Guns

A study published Thursday concludes that a subsequent increase in gun exposure led to more accidental firearm deaths than otherwise would have occurred in the months after the school shooting. "It would make common sense to some people to think 'what I need to do to protect myself is to have a gun, ' but the unfortunate truth is that this normal reaction is wrong", said Fielding, who was not involved in the new study.

That increase in guns led to at least 57 additional firearm-related deaths, the researchers said, 18 of which were among children.

Neither of the two statisticians who conducted the research - Phillip Levine and Robin McKnight - had worked on gun violence before. "If we really wanted to understand the health effects of firearm ownership, we would randomize the ownership of weapons in different households and observe their effects over time". "The public health consequences of the increase in gun sales are probably larger than what we found in our paper".

Using Google trends data, researchers at Wellesley College spotted an increase in searches for phrases including "buy gun" and "clean gun" in the five months after a shooter at an elementary school murdered 20 children and six adults. 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.

Firearm sales exhibited specific spikes immediately after Obama suggested particular gun control measures on January 16, 2013, and when he discussed the proposed legislation in his State of the Union address on February 12, 2013, McKnight said.

"I don't think it's actually a response so much to Sandy Hook and the tragedy there as it is to the political discussion following it", McKnight said.

McKnight and Levine also looked at national- and state-level mortality data to see if the increase in gun searches and sales correlated to any accidental gun deaths.

The researchers attribute numerous deaths to improper or inadequate gun storage. "That's part of the risk as well". The new study did not find that more sales equated to more suicides or homicides, only that gun accidents increased.

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No other spike in accidental deaths "of that magnitude" matches what happened after Sandy Hook, the authors wrote, and the states that had the biggest increase in sales saw the biggest increase in accidental gun deaths.

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

"It's basically a catch-22", McKnight said.

The safest way to enact tougher gun control in America might be to move fast when the time is right, McKnight said.

"What's nice about Google data is that you can see specific cause and effect like this", Levine said.

Another researcher who has investigated post-Sandy Hook gun sales isn't sure that all firearm purchases were motivated by concern over gun control.

"It's nearly the iron law of guns", agrees Stanford Law School professor John Donahue, who wrote a commentary arguing for evidence-based gun policies also published today in Science. The number of people run through the system increased beyond the standard number after Sandy Hook, they found.

Fears over a short-term increase in deaths and injuries shouldn't keep legislators and policy experts from considering gun control, Studdert added. But these hurdles haven't stopped every scientist - and lately there's been a revival in gun research, according to the commentary published today in Science. But restrictions on funding have left gaping holes in USA gun safety research. National Institute of Justice.

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