The Impact of Mass Shootings on Gun Policy
60 Pages Posted: 7 May 2016 Last revised: 21 Mar 2019
Date Written: January 2019
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 16% increase in the number of firearm bills introduced within a state in the year after a mass shooting. This effect increases with the number of fatalities. Second, mass shootings account for a small portion of all gun deaths, but have an outsized influence relative to other homicides. Third, when looking at bills that were actually enacted into law, the impact of mass shootings depends on the party in power. Laws that loosen gun restrictions increase by 75% in the aftermath of a mass shooting in states with Republican-controlled legislatures. We find no significant effect of mass shootings on laws enacted when there is a Democrat-controlled legislature, nor do we find a significant effect of mass shootings on the enactment of laws that tighten gun restrictions.
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