Firearms and accidental deaths: Evidence from the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting

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Abstract

Exposure to firearms increased substantially after the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and 6 adults were killed. Gun sales spiked by 3 million, on the basis of the increase in the number of background checks for firearm purchases. Google searches for buying and cleaning guns increased. We used Vital Statistics mortality data to examine whether a spike in accidental firearm deaths occurred at the same time as the greater exposure to firearms. We also assessed whether the increase in these deaths was larger in those states where the spike in gun sales per capita was larger. We find that an additional 60 deaths overall, including 20 children, resulted from unintentional shootings in the immediate aftermath of Sandy Hook.

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