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Mass Shootings, Gun Control, and Gun Sales

Posted on October 8, 2013

This is from the Mises Institute.


Much has been written about the economics of gun control, including Kjar and Robinson’s 2009 article that noted the lack of basic economic application to the issue, and that there are ample substitutes available to individuals intent on killing people. Although gun violence “dropped dramatically nationwide” over the past two decades, the majority of homicides are still committed with a firearm. Moreover, the FBI has reported that the murder rate in the U.S. has steadily declined for the majority of the past 20 years as gun ownership has surged to an all time high. Unfortunately, mass shootings have not followed that trend. Data shows the incidence of mass shootings is relatively unchanged over the past two decades. News reports certainly make it seem more common but in reality, mass shootings are still extremely rare. Nevertheless, we can easily recall recent shootings such as the Newtown, Connecticut shooting, and more recently, the Naval Yard shooting. In fact, a simple Google search of “mass shootings in 2012 and 2013” produces an overwhelming number of results, with the first being “Mass Shootings in America: A history, 1999 through 2013.” The article notes that since Columbine, there have been 29 additional mass shootings in the U.S. through the Sandy Hook tragedy in Newtown. We’ve had more shootings since then.

Mass shootings continue despite new laws enacted following Sandy Hook. In fact, calls for increased regulation of the gun industry and its proponents is nothing new — it crops up every time there is a tragedy. As noted recently in the Washington Times, attempts to enact “meaningful” legislation on gun control have been going on for 20 years.

Is there a correlation between the incidence of mass shootings and the attempts by lawmakers to outlaw large capacity magazines and certain types of semi-automatic rifles; discussions of new gun laws; and new laws requiring the fingerprinting of gun buyers and creation of a gun owner “registry”? Are Obama’s repeated pleas for more regulation of the gun industry contributing to a relatively inelastic demand for guns and complementary gun accessories? Evidence suggests that might be precisely the case.

No president in contemporary history has been as insistent on passing gun-control legislation as President Obama who signed 23 executive orders related to gun control following Sandy Hook, and continues to lobby for more “action” after every mass shooting. No president in contemporary history has had the number of mass shootings that President Obama has had, either.

Since Sandy Hook, new laws have passed in many states, including Colorado, where two senators in favor of gun control recently lost their seats in a recall vote. Gun manufacturers and manufacturers of complementary products (Magpul Industries, manufacturer of high capacity magazines, for example) operating in such states have looked into and are planning to relocate their businesses to more gun-industry friendly states. The economic impact of losing the gun industry in some of these states will devastate the local community as well as creating a significant loss in tax revenues. These facts seem to be irrelevant in the larger battle on gun control.

Combined with these state and local gun control efforts, President Obama’s repeated calls for increased regulation in effect create a supply shock in the industry. Every time President Obama speaks about outlawing “assault-style” rifles (more accurately known as semi-automatic rifles or modern sporting rifles), gun stores get busy, prices rise, firearm sales spike, and ammunition flies off the shelves faster than one can reload. Higher prices have not slowed sales at all, signaling a relatively inelastic demand, at least in the short run, following a shooting incident and the now predictable call for increased regulation.

Walmart continues to restrict ammunition sales to not more than three boxes per person per day — that is, if you can find anything on the shelf. After Sandy Hook, Walmart sold out of semi-automatic rifles in at least five states, and the price of AR-15s as well as high capacity magazines skyrocketed to nearly double the MSRP at many local gun shops and online gun sellers. Still, buyers found empty shelves for months.

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11 thoughts on “Mass Shootings, Gun Control, and Gun Sales

  1. Cliffystones says:

    Really great article………..at stating the obvious.

  2. It is worth noting that prior to 1970 there is no record of a student going into a high school to shoot his fellow students. Since that time there have been many.
    What has changed? We’ve always had guns; they are only inanimate tools. We haven’t had spree shooters. Removing guns from the equation won’t solve our problems. Also, pointing fingers at violent movies and video games is too simple.
    Is it fair for me to place more blame for current events on the debased culture, the moral decline, the public corruption, the lack of personal responsibility, the decline of the family unit, and the ”anything goes” promiscuity preached by the current arbiters of society?
    When you create a Godless society; you must be prepared to live in a lawless world.

  3. No president in contemporary history has had the number of mass shootings that President Obama has had, either.
    GEE, I wonder why? Maybe because he is the worst president we have ever had. Putting us further in to debt in not creating jobs with the money he keeps borrowing. Increasing Heath Care Premiums. His dictatorship ruling. Taking benefits away from SS and Medicare. Offering illegals citizenship which will take jobs away from American born citizens. Just to name a few. Which is putting more stress on people.
    We the People need to IMPEACH him.


    Not to mention the atmosphere of hatred and animosity he has and continues to foment.

  5. Shel Rama says:

    With the increasing power of the Islamists world-wide, I will NEVER, EVER, EVER give up my gun.

  6. it seems like Obama is a full blown raciest along with holder..they mouthed about martin,but wont say anything when a black kills a white..he was supposed to be a president to all people,but he is not.he has wasted more money than all of the other presidents combined..and keeps wanting to borrow more money and give to un reliable companys and to muslems..he must think that money grows on trees..he is continually blaming the rebublican.. all americans should get the insurance at the same price as the government and unions..it is a shame that he thinks that they deserve a cheaper price for their insurance when the make many thousands more than the average person..the republicans should never agree to his terms…he is not qualified to be a president..and should resign today…

  7. And as ;long as the news and so-called research agencies continue to pursue the weapon instead of the cause they will continue to arrive at the same incorrect solution..
    The problem is the profits made on Prescription psychiatric control drugs which cause mind altering problems in the same manner although more intensly than the illegal drugs which get people jailed. These drugs all have warnings about mind alteing effects that include homicidal and suicidal tendencies.

  8. oldgringo says:

    "When will They ever Learn!"…Peter, Paul and Mary

  9. oldgringo says:

    Not one shooter of notoriety during the last 150 years was found to be a registered Republican…Nor an NRA member…Nor a Conservative…Nor a Tea Party folk…Nor an Eagle Scout…And definitely Not a responsible Gun Owner…Consensus: Democrats should not be allowed to own a firearm, a knife, a baseball bat, a hammer, a screw driver, or a big stick…These items are constatly being used to kill people by mentally deranged lunatics who proudly enjoy registering themselves as Democrats!.."When will They ever Learn!"…Peter, Paul and Mary.

  10. oldgringo says:

    Back track…Fact Check: Every Public Shooting recorded in the US since the 1950's in which more than three people were killed by a shooter of notoriety has take place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns…I.e…Gun Free Zone signs just do not work as witnessed by the latest US Navy's own Ship Yard shooting…Not forgetting that during the 1960's the Democratic Party was hijacked and taken hostage by all the radical elements of our society…What's more alarming is that every shooter of notoriety since John Wilkes Booth has been a Democrat or a child or a Democrat…Which leads one to the conclusion that mentally disturbed individuals who use guns to vent their frustrations by killing other people tend to be from the liberal left…i.e….Democrats! (continued)

  11. I attribute some of the rise in mass shootings to stress as you say, but I would also mention that back yonder there weren't any "psychomeds", which from my understanding most of these killers were taking. There also used to be actual families back then. And I would also not rule out false flag events- in politics, there are NO coincidences.