Sandy Hook mass shooting triggers weapons purchase

A study reveals that purchase of weapons increased after gunfire in elementary school

The number one country with most mass shooting in the world is United States. On average every day a person dies in one of these massacres and 96 others lose their lives by being shoot with weapons. Opposite to what it’s believed, the magnitude and frequency of these acts increase gun purchases within the country.

The North American country has also the largest number of firearms per capita in the world. It is estimated that there are between 270 and 310 million weapons on circulation. Surprisingly, the cipher would be enough to arm every single American. Moreover, according to statistics, in US a mass shooting is perpetrated every 64 days.

On 14 December 2012, a 20-year-old shooter entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The perpetrator killed 20 children and 6 adults. This was the deadliest massacre in recent history in US; paradoxically, it was the reason for an increase in weapons sales and accidental gun deaths during the 5 following months after the shooting. The situation was revealed by 'Firearms and accidental deaths: evidence from the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting', a study carried out by researchers Philip B. Levine and Robin McKnight, from the Wellesley University, Massachusetts.

The study reveals that between December 2012 and April 2013, more than 3 million weapons were sold in the country. The number of fatal gun accidents per month increased by 27% in the general population and 64% among children. In accordance to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during 2012 and before the Sandy Hook shooting, the average number of accidental deaths with weapons was 45 per month, after the shooting the number increased to 66 deaths every 30 days.

To conduct the research, the authors reviewed databases, Google Trends searches and checked background weapons purchases carried out by FBI. The findings show that after the events in the Newtown school and two specific statements made by then President Barack Obama, Google searches on "buy gun" and "clean gun" suddenly increased as well as the gun acquisition.  

A gun control problem or a mental health situation?

Despite statistics, the number of circulating guns in a country should not be considered as the only responsible for mass shootings frequency. India ratifies this theory, since it is the second country in the world with the highest number of firearms per inhabitant. Thus, this is why experts began to deal with mass shootings, not as a problem of gun control, but as a mental health situation.

As explained by the American Psychological Association (APA), emotionally healthy people have control over their thoughts, feelings and behaviors; as a result, they have the ability to put problems in perspective. However, those who have mental imbalance, lack the skills required to act under ethical codes. Therefore, they are more likely to put theirs’s and others’ lives in risk.

According to Health World Organization figures, more than 300 million people in the world suffer depression and another 260 million experienced anxiety disorder. In the United States, 44 million people suffer from mental disorders and only one third of this population receives some type of treatment. Furthermore, the other remaining percentage does not have access due to the high costs or lack of a health system program.

Adam Lanza, the gunman who killed 20 children and 6 adults -including his own mother-, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, suffered from Asperger's Syndrome. This is a disorder that affects the mental and behavioral condition of patients. Although specialists discarded this situation as a responsible fact for unleashing the macabre, this cause is still being considered the main trigger to this mass shooting.

LatinAmerican Post | Khrisna Jaramillo

Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza