Correlation is not causation but from looking at the numbers it seems pretty clear that horrific mass shootings are followed, a year or so later, by less support for gun control than just before the mass shooting.
The authors of the paper are clearly in favor of gun control. They ask, and answer, the question of how to go about “Breaking the Cycle”. The cycle being the “regression to the mean” and a continued drop in support after an initial surge in support for gun control following a particularly horrific mass shooting.
Their answer, in part, is:
To change the shooting cycle, gun control advocates must change the gun culture. But to change the gun culture, gun control advocates must explain, or at least distance themselves from the position that causes the fiercest opposition—that the Brady Campaign sees as its ultimate goal the criminalization of possessing guns. Nelson “Pete” Shields III, a founder of Handgun Control, Inc.—the aptly named progenitor of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence—openly advocated for the elimination of all handguns: “‘We’re going to have to take this one step at a time. . . . Our ultimate goal—total control of all guns—is going to take time.’ The ‘final problem,’ he insisted, ‘is to make the possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition’ for ordinary civilians ‘totally illegal.’”197 John Hechinger, a sponsor of the D.C. handgun ban and a board member of Handgun Control, Inc., put it simply: “We have to do away with the guns.”198
The anti-gun people have difficult hurdles to overcome. They must attract supporters that are willing to donate money and time to, at best, only make small incremental, paper-work type, changes to gun laws. They cannot speak or even whisper of banning guns. Without banning, and perhaps even with draconian bans, people with any smarts about them will realize “universal background checks”, “gun free zones”, and restrictive carry laws are just crazy talk. How many people are willing to spend time and money on something that only benefits their cause in some abstract way of encumbering “the gun culture”.
If they could speak of grand plans to ban guns and create a “gun free America” if only given enough money and time then they probably could get more support. But doing so increases their opposition more than their support.
So how to “change” (eliminate) the gun culture? That is another huge hurdle. There are no “anti-gun ranges” or “anti-gun shows” to take people to for fun, learning, and familiarity. A process/cycle has been identified for which the chances of the anti-gun forces breaking is very low. To disrupt the cycle requires a raising the bar to gun ownership such that the propagation of “the gun culture” is inhibited. But raising such a bar is virtually impossible at this time because of the courts and the resistance with which disruption is met with.
It’s a similar problem to that faced by those who advocate for reducing greenhouse gases which contribute to “Global Warming”/”Climate Change”. People like the benefits of those activities which produce the greenhouse gases as a side effect. Any effort to break “the cycle” of greenhouse gas production encounters very stiff resistance on the specifics of the proposed legislative action even though some polling data indicates a sizable portion of the (mostly ignorant) population agree with the vague, overall goals.
One could say that this paper settles the science on the politics of gun control. The gun control people are losing and as long as we continue expanding our culture they will continue to lose.