Responding to violence with guns: Mass shootings and gun acquisition

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Although some sources have observed an increase in the number of gun purchases following mass shootings, empirical research investigating this pattern is limited. Appraisal Theory suggests that mass shootings contribute to fear of victimization through media exposure. Desire for self-protection is the primary reason many individuals own and purchase guns. This paper examines this link by assessing the effects of six mass shootings that took place in the 2000-2010 time period. This study examines effects for gun acquisition nationally and regionally as well as timing-specific patterns in gun acquisition following these events. Gun acquisition counts are approximated from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Results indicate a positive but delayed association between mass shootings and the number of NICS background checks. Implications of this finding for violence and possibilities for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-167
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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