Research, What Helps Prevent Mass Shootings and What doesn’t
We conducted a study to determine what can prevent mass shootings.
Every time there is a shooting spree in the United States, there are cries for stricter gun control laws to prevent future tragedies. According to academics that conduct research in this area, there is data suggesting that certain types of regulations may minimize the number of deaths caused by mass shootings. However, these policy alternatives are not the ones that are typically addressed in the wake of these occurrences.
Michael Anestis, the executive director of the New Jersey Gun Violence Knowledge Center at Rutgers University, points out that the pool of research that scientists have to draw from is relatively small. “Study on mass shootings only accounts for a tiny part of research on gun violence,” he says.
Anestis explains that this is the case since mass shootings account for fewer than 1 percent of the approximately 40,000 people killed by guns each year in our country. “It’s only the very tip of the iceberg, right? It’s horrible, it’s all too common, and yet it’s just the tip of the iceberg!”
According to him, academics who investigate gun violence typically concentrate their attention on the types of violence, including suicide, associated with the highest number of deaths. But he adds that the entire subject of study on gun violence has been ignored for a long time and receives very little funding.
According to Anestis, “there is money out there, but it is far below where it should be given the amount of injury, death, and economic costs associated with gun violence.” “There is money out there,” says Anestis, “but it is far below where it should be given the amount of injury and death and It’s just that the funding is disproportionately inadequate.
Two methods functioned significantly better than the others in Preventing Mass Shootings.
Nevertheless, there are findings from some research that suggest what might avoid mass shootings.
One such study made use of the fact that different states in the United States have various regulations regarding firearms. According to Daniel Webster, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions, “That is honestly less than ideal from a public safety standpoint, but it gives researchers options.”
Webster claims, “I have to confess that this is a complicated and inexact science.” he and a few of his colleagues recently examined data spanning more than three decades on shootings in the United States that had four or more victims. They studied several states in an effort to see how the effects of different gun regulations differ.
In spite of these restrictions, he claims that “we did uncover two strategies that had significant protective impacts in lowering rates of deadly mass shootings.”
A firearm purchaser was required to go through a licensing procedure, which was one of the restrictions. According to Webster, “a licensing process requires someone to apply and cooperate with law enforcement personally, and there are sometimes extra requirements such as safety training.”
State restrictions on the purchase of large capacity magazines or ammunition feeding mechanisms for semiautomatic weapons were another strategy that appeared to be effective in reducing the number of deaths caused by mass shootings.
According to Webster, this makes intuitive sense. These elements enable a shooter to fire many shots in a short amount of time without experiencing any interruptions. When a gunman is forced to pause and reload their weapon, their victims have a chance to flee or defend themselves.
Another study that looked at incidents of mass shootings found that laws like these tended to be effective in preventing deaths and injuries. David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, led a team of researchers to analyze the impact that prohibiting large-capacity magazines might have had on the number of mass shootings across the country over the past three decades.
“The states that had bans did significantly better in terms of having fewer mass shootings, and the mass shootings that did occur were far less fatal in terms of the number of people who died,” says Hemenway. “The states that had bans did much better in having fewer mass shootings.”
What about conducting background checks on students and having police officers on campus?
According to Webster, in the aftermath of a mass shooting, individuals frequently argue for the necessity of having complete background checks. He maintains his support for that strategy, although his research findings do not indicate a connection between it and a decrease in the occurrence of this specific category of the fatal event.
“If anything, it suggests increased frequencies of deadly mass shootings as a response to lower laws for concealed carry by civilians,” the author of the study said. According to him, a further recurrent refrain in the aftermath of a mass shooting is a request for measures that would make it easier for people to carry guns so that they might defend themselves. Webster adds, “Well, you won’t believe me when I tell you that the numbers in no way support that assertion.”
“As far as I know, there is no strong research about any of those things,” says Hemenway, adding that school systems might try to respond to the threat of mass shootings by having police officers on-site or having students go through drills. However, “as far as I know, there is no strong research about those things.”
According to Webster, based on data showing that “the peak ages for violent offending with firearms is roughly 18 to 21,” it would be reasonable to expect that keeping guns away from young people would have a protective effect. This could be accomplished by safely storing firearms in the home or by imposing age restrictions on the purchase of firearms.
According to him, a restriction on drinking under the age of 21 was motivated by the dangers to public health associated with underage drinking by young people. However, the gunman in Uvalde was legally able to purchase semiautomatic guns not long after he became 18 years old.
According to Anestis, it is plausible that age restrictions could make it more difficult for young adults to gain access to weapons that are capable of causing a mass shooting. Still, there is no evidence to support this claim “Do we have access to extensive resources based on data for analyzing those policies? No, we don’t.”
Permitting law enforcement personnel to temporarily seize firearms from individuals who appear to represent an immediate threat is one of the newer policy options. There is some preliminary evidence to support this action.
A study conducted in California and looked at how this method gets used during a two-year period in that state showed that it was done in response to threats of a mass shooting 21 times, several of which involved schools. In total, the study revealed that this technique was utilized in California.
Researchers believe that despite the fact that it is impossible to determine whether or not removing those guns would have indeed averted mass shootings, the data is still essential given the overall lack of knowledge and the restricted financing for research. One study conducted in 2017 indicated that gun violence was responsible for nearly the same number of deaths each year as sepsis, which is a life-threatening response to infection. Despite this, the funding for research into gun violence was only around 0.7% of that for sepsis.
According to Hemenway, “there are so many things to examine in the gun domain, and we’ve not had nearly enough studies since this century.” “Once you scratch the surface of what is known right now, there is so much more that we do not know.”
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