Public mass shootings impact on the public's firearm carrying habits: evidence of a moral panic
Public mass shootings occur at a rate in the U.S. that is higher than any other developed country. These event initiate wide spread media attention. The media attention these events achieve have shown to impact the public behavior (e.g., increased firearm sales). However, the impact public mass shootings have on firearm storage and carry habits of the public is not well understood. Using data collected from the Transportation Security Administration, this study examines how mass shootings have led to moral panics occurring within the U.S. through the examination of the firearm carrying habits among the population immediately following mass shootings. The results indicate that loaded firearms with rounds in the chamber detected by the TSA have significantly increased since 2012. Further, firearms detected immediately following a public mass shooting had a higher proportion of firearms loaded with a round in the chamber relative to 7 days prior to the shooting. Moreover, the increase in proportions of firearms found loaded with a round in the chamber exponentially decays as days past the initial shooting, these events occur at a higher rate than the decay rate can normalize these occurrences. I conclude that in the wake of these shootings a moral panic ensues that is partially responsible for the change in the general public’s arming configuration habits. Further research is needed in to determine the impact on crime, and public health related issues due to this change in the public’s firearm carrying habits.