Tuesday, 21 May, 2019


Mass shootings trigger waves of accidental deaths, study finds

Mass shootings trigger waves of accidental deaths, study finds Mass shootings trigger waves of accidental deaths, study finds
Kristine Garrett | 08 December, 2017, 03:36

After 26 children and educators were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 and President Barack Obama talked about increasing gun control, Americans bought more guns.

The authors, health economists Phillip Levine and Robin McKnight, from Wellesley College and the National Bureau of Economic Research, Massachusetts, US, studied Google search data to estimate exposure to guns in the US after Sandy Hook.

The researchers also dug through the Vital Statistics system, a record of every death in the US.

In the same time period that searches jumped, accidental firearm-related deaths increased 27 percent overall and by 64 percent among children. "It's not a ideal proxy", Levine says. To understand how the resulting increase in exposure to guns might be correlated with deaths related to firearms, Levine and McKnight then looked at two different datasets capturing deaths across the country.

Licensed gun dealers check with the background check system when someone buys a gun, but the database does not account for people who buy guns at shows or from private dealers. "Humans are imperfect, despite their best intentions", said Dr. Stephen Hargarten, a professor and chairman in the Department of Emergency Medicine and director of the Injury Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

But the paper is drawing criticism from some researchers.

Essentially, the United States faces a conundrum in dealing with gun violence.

The findings were published December 8 in the journal Science. In particular, Kleck finds the statistical associations implausible. Actual gun sales increased by 3 million. The states with the smallest increase in gun sales saw the smallest number of additional accidental deaths. "That is really what allows them to make causal claims about firearm exposure and accidental gun deaths". "If guns were stored all the time properly all the time, even if there were more guns, there would be no more accidents".

For more on gun violence, visit the U.S. They ask: "'We know in this [post-Sandy Hook] period an exceptional number of guns were added to those already in circulation; did anything unusual happen?'" "Again, keep in mind, it is only one study".

"You see not just an interest in buying guns, but you also see interest in cleaning guns", McKnight said.

The authors have responses to numerous critiques.

The Sandy Hook school shooting five years ago prompted political response that led to significantly higher gun sales; and this resulted in greater numbers of accidental deaths by firearms - in both adults and children, according to recent data. "The real issue is not the number of guns, but the number of guns that are stored improperly", she wrote in an email. They tell gun owners that liberals are about to vote on a new law to take away their guns, driving those owners into buying yet more guns. They launched their study after seeing a chart in a newspaper showing the sharp upturn in gun sales after Sandy Hook. Google searches that included the term "clean gun" spiked post-Sandy Hook. The authors discuss a study that suggested that "right-to-carry" (RTC) laws reduced crime, citing a number of technical shortcomings, including how the study dealt with the wave of crack cocaine-related crime during the 1980s/90s; these shortcomings have since been addressed in subsequent work, which predominatly suggests that RTC actually increases crime. But instead of offering protection, at least in some cases, the sales increased the chances that people would be accidentally shot and killed, according to a study published Thursday in Science magazine. But until now, there hadn't been any definitive proof that these rises in gun sales resulted in any surge in gun deaths.

But there are other serious limitations to studying gun deaths too. Thirty-one states, including a northern band from Washington through Minnesota, as well as Oklahoma, Missouri, and Tennessee, fit into the first category.

That stark finding, says Levine, "just strengthens support for our hypothesis". The study found that accidental gun deaths increased, but the surge in gun sales had nearly no effect on homicides and suicides that were intentionally committed - and that make up the lion's share of gun deaths in America.

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