Gun violence in America has been a national crisis for years, and the most destructive form of this crisis is mass shootings. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, the United States saw more gun violence in 2020 than it has in decades, and when a mass shooting occurs in the United States, the response of the American public takes many forms. A measurable response is the demand for firearms throughout the United States following a mass shooting. Because of this, we decided to observe how 9 of the most deadly mass shootings over the past 20 years affected gun sales in America. We created an ARIMA model to measure the effect on firearm sales following these shootings. These sales are proxied by using the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, as background checks are required to purchase a firearm legally in the United States. Our findings show that mass shootings increase the amount of background checks received by the NICS in the months following the event, and that the shootings carried out by individuals from foreign countries yield a higher increase in these checks, most likely due to the American public’s fear of international terrorism. We also find that firearm sales increase following the election of a democratic president, most likely due to the American public’s anticipation of more gun restrictions.
Mass-shootings occur in the United States on a near daily basis, and media coverage of these events may influence people to purchase firearms. Using a time-series model, we study the impact of the nine most severe mass-shootings in the US in the past 20 years on national background checks, which proxy for gun sales. We find that mass shootings increase the number of background checks reported by the National Institute of Crime Statistics in the following months. We also find that that shootings with connections to international terrorism result in a larger increase in these checks.