The Impact of Mass Shootings on Gun Policy
There have been dozens of high-profile mass shootings in recent decades. This paper presents three main findings about the impact of mass shootings on gun policy. First, mass shootings evoke large policy responses. A single mass shooting leads to a 15% increase in the number of firearm bills introduced within a state in the year after a mass shooting. Second, mass shootings account for a small portion of all gun deaths, but have an outsized influence relative to other homicides. Our estimates suggest that the per-death impact of mass shootings on bills introduced is about 80 times as large as the impact of individual gun homicides in non-mass shooting incidents. Third, when looking at enacted laws, the impact of mass shootings depends on the party in power. A mass shooting increases the number of enacted laws that loosen gun restrictions by 75% in states with Republican controlled legislatures. We find no significant effect of mass shootings on laws enacted when there is a Democrat-controlled legislature.
I found this difficult to believe. Didn’t the elementary school shooting in Stockton California enable passage of the “assault weapon” ban in California? Didn’t the Newton Connecticut school shooting result in more restrictive laws in New York, Connecticut and Colorado?
I didn’t duplicate their math but I read their process details fairly closely. It sounds like they did a good job of accounting for various factors and categorization of legislative action and every other variable I could think of (and some I didn’t think of).
The bottom line appears to be that those increasing of firearms restrictions due to the mass shooting events I think of are statistical noise. This is interesting and timely because one hypothesis of the most recent mass shooting in Las Vegas is as follows:
It has been said that ‘the medium is the message’.
In this case that is the literal truth. There is only one plausible motive for what this man did. And here it is:
This man wished to telegraph to America in graphic form the hard irrefutable evidence that guns and gun ownership and the ease of gun purchase in America are an evil and must be controlled. On that hypothesis everything now makes sense. And it must be said his concept has a certain demented genius.
Because even if the public learns and believes that his motive was all about ‘guns’ the horror of the act itself – an act to protest such acts – is in some ways even worse for being plain evidence that there is no limit to the insanity to which guns can be put.
Also note that nearly all mass shooters are inclined to be Democrats. Most are way around the bend nuts, but was part of their nuttiness that they were trying to convey their message that guns were too dangerous for private citizens to have “because look at what I did?” If so, then widespread knowledge that gun laws tend to be relaxed as a result of mass shootings may tend to reduce the frequency of mass shootings.