If You Live Near A Mass Shooting You Are More Likely To Favor Stricter Gun Control

Michael McConville/Wikimedia Commons/Caleb Keeter/Twitter

James Felton 04 Oct 2017, 12:46

It makes sense that if you have ever experienced a mass shooting, you would be in favor of stricter gun controls. The Internet right now is full of people saying just that, after the horrendous recent event in Las Vegas. A new study has just confirmed it.

Take, for instance, guitarist Caleb Keeter. Caleb witnessed the shooting on October 1. Until then he had been a vocal proponent of the second amendment, but when the shooting took place his opinion changed. 

He has written about his experience on Twitter, and why he is calling for stricter gun controls right now.


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"We need gun control RIGHT. NOW. My biggest regret is that I stubbornly didn't realize it until my brothers on the road and myself were threatened by it."


So what about the wider community? How are their views on gun control affected by mass shootings that have taken place nearby?

A new study published in the British Journal of Political Science has found the obvious: If you live near a mass shooting, you are more likely to favor stricter gun controls. The study, from the University of Sheffield and the University of California, found that this was true of US citizens, regardless of their political affiliations. Republican or Democrat, if your community goes through a mass shooting, you are more likely to want stricter gun controls.

To find this out, the researchers merged data from more than 200 mass shootings (where three or more people were injured or killed) with survey data on views of gun control from more than 50,000 people taken from a Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES). By looking at the zip code of respondents to the survey, they were able to establish how close they were to a mass shooting. 

The study didn't find just a small effect. Citizens living near a mass shooting were 20 per cent more likely to want stricter gun control. The study took into account "the number of murders per capita, the number of firearms per person, the Republican vote in a respondent’s county of residence and a range of other control variables" and still found this effect.

“The US is unusual compared to other Western nations in that despite its high number of mass shootings, we have not seen a major change in firearm legislation like we have in the UK and Australia," co-author of the study Dr Todd Hartman said in a statement.

“Our findings place gun violence and gun control on par with policy-feedback loops similar to other issues such as environmental regulation, disaster preparedness, and regulation of speculative financial trading, where the breaking of opinion inertia and status quo policy requires significant shocks that inflict pain on the nation.” 

The lesson from the study is probably that if you don't change your mind right now, you will when it happens to your own community.

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