After the Sandy Hook shooting, gun sales spiked — and so did accidental gun deaths

sandy hook elementary shooting

A new report found that gun purchases and accidental firearm deaths both spiked significantly after the Sandy Hook mass shooting.
The study is part of a larger body of recent research that is shedding light on gun violence, according to researchers.
Although it’s hard to study gun deaths, researchers have a good idea about which policies have an impact on violence rates.

On December 14, 2012, a 20-year-old man shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, and opened fire. He killed 20 children (six- and seven-year-olds) and six adults.

In the aftermath of the shooting, calls for legislation aimed at limiting access to firearms resulted in what’s now become a predictable post-mass-murder event: people bought lots of guns.

With more guns around in the following months, rates of accidental death related to firearms rose sharply, especially for children, according to a new study published in the journal Science.

Study authors Phillip Levine and Robin McKnight of Wellesley compared the number of accidental firearm deaths during the five months after Sandy Hook (from December 2012 to April 2013) with the amount during the same time period in other years between 2008 and 2015. They found that after Sandy Hook, accidental firearm death rates rose 27% overall, and 64% for children up to the age of 14.

That means at least 60 people were killed by mistake as a result of those gun purchases: 40 adults and 20 children.

In the five months after the mass shooting, approximately 3 million more guns were sold than would have been expected based on historical trends. Online searches for terms like “buy gun” and “clean gun” also spiked (especially after President Obama spoke publicly about gun control).

The more people who get exposed to guns because they’re newly purchased or because they’ve been brought out of storage, the more likely accidental shootings are to occur.

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.

Understanding gun deaths

There are limitations to conducting a study like this, the authors wrote, since the CDC Vital Statistics data they used to calculate gun deaths is known to understate accidental firearm deaths, especially when an accidental injury later results in death.

But there are other serious limitations to studying gun deaths too. Lobbying by the National Rifle Association has influenced Congress to avoid funding research that could justify heavier gun control.

That means there’s no national database of gun purchases, so it’s hard to tell how many guns are sold. In this case, the researchers calculated the 3 million sales based on the number of background checks run through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is used by federally licensed gun retailers.

NRA lobbying also led congress to cut the CDC budget by $2.6 million — the same amount as the budget of the the centers’ gun violence research program, as Philip Cook and John Donohue noted in a public policy analysis published alongside the new …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Politics


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