For this study, researchers from NYU Tandon School of Engineering partnered with UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and Northeastern University to study how media influences firearm sales. The researchers called the study “Media Coverage and Firearm Acquisition in the Aftermath of a Mass Shooting.”
Basically, the study looked at three variables that likely influenced gun sales after mass shootings. These includes mass shootings, media coverage surrounding these events, media coverage of gun policy and laws, and gun sales. They looked at 69 shootings from 1999 to 2017. Then, they looked at gun control coverage in The New York Times and the Washington Post, along with month background checks during this time period. This came to more than 9,700 documents, according to a story published on phys.org by the NYU Tandon School of Engineering.
NYU Study Results
The researchers claim this is the first study to look at media coverage of mass shootings and gun sales. It is also the first to confirm a link between the two. One thing that surprised the researchers was the lack of a link between a mass shooting and gun purchases. Previous studies had shown a link between the two.
A mass shooting doesn’t, in itself, raise gun sales. Nor does media coverage about such shootings that doesn’t include discussion about gun laws. It is the media coverage about gun policy and regulations after one of these events makes people head to the gun store. This is particularly true for states with less restrictive gun laws.
“This study provides the critical insight that media coverage appears to mediate the increase in firearm acquisition following mass shootings,” said Lead author Maurizio Porfiri.
“Our study suggests the need for dialogue around how mass shooting events are discussed by the press, in order to find ways to mitigate unintended consequences,” said James A. Macinko, co-author with the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.
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