Why is the National Rifle Association so powerful? asks The Guardian in an in-depth analysis of the political role of the NRA in resisting efforts to reduce gun violence. Here’s a clue: it’s not (just) about the money. The vast majority of Americans support gun control, and yet Congress has failed to toughen laws even in the wake of a series of mass shootings. With the NRA pouring money into political races at record levels it is an easy argument to make that the gun lobby has bought Washington – but that fails to paint a full picture… “The NRA has money that it uses to help its favored candidates get elected. But the real source of its power, I believe, comes from voters,” said Adam Winkler, professor of constitutional law at the UCLA School of Law and author of Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America. By choosing its battles wisely, the NRA has shown an ability to swing primary elections in favor of pro-gun candidates, Winkler said. “That’s the real source of their strength,” he said. That and its use of a relatively small number of highly motivated people to push an agenda that appears out of step with the general population, which, according to recent polling, is in favor of stricter gun laws.
Firearm violence injures or kills 100,000 Americans each year. Research on firearm violence tends to focus on two elements-the host (i.e., victims of firearm violence) and the environment (i.e., gun policies)-but little attention has been paid to the agent (the gun and ammunition) or the vector (firearm manufacturers, dealers, and the industry lobby). Using Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives data, trends in firearm manufacturing were investigated from 1990 to 2015. Overall domestic firearms production decreased slightly from 1996 through 2004, and then steadily increased from 1.7% in 2005 to 13.8% in 2013, when >10 million firearms were produced for the domestic market. The increase in total firearm production was driven by the increased production of pistols and rifles. Within the pistol category, increased production was attributable to an increase in higher caliber weapons. Similar trends were observed in gun purchases and recovered and traced crime guns. Trends in firearm manufacturing reveal a shift toward more-lethal weapons, and this trend is also observed in gun purchases and crime gun traces. This may reflect a societal shift in cultural practices and norms related to guns and could inform strategies to reduce firearm violence.
Citation: Smith VM, Siegel M, Xuan Z, Ross CS, Galea S, Kalesan B, Fleegler E, Goss KA. Broadening the Perspective on Gun Violence: An Examination of the Firearms Industry, 1990-2015. Am J Prev Med. 2017. pii: S0749-3797(17)30258-1.
A study in Pediatrics examines fatal and nonfatal firearm injuries among children aged 0 to 17 in the United States, including intent, demographic characteristics, trends, state-level patterns, and circumstances. Nearly 1300 children die and 5790 are treated for gunshot wounds each year. Boys, older children, and minorities are disproportionately affected. Although unintentional firearm deaths among children declined from 2002 to 2014 and firearm homicides declined from 2007 to 2014, firearm suicides decreased between 2002 and 2007 and then showed a significant upward trend from 2007 to 2014. Rates of firearm homicide among children are higher in many Southern states and parts of the Midwest relative to other parts of the country. Firearm homicides of younger children often occurred in multivictim events and involved intimate partner or family conflict; older children more often died in the context of crime and violence. Firearm injuries are an important public health problem, contributing substantially to premature death and disability of children. Understanding their nature and impact is a first step toward prevention.
Citation: Fowler KA, Dahlberg LL, Haileyesus T, et al.Childhood Firearm Injuries in the United States. Pediatrics. 2017;140(1): e20163486
Gary Wintemute doesn’t look like a slayer of gunslingers, writes the Sacramento Bee in a profile of one of the nation’s leading researchers on the gun industry. He’s a bespectacled professor of 65, and speaks in the measured tones of the scientist he is. But for the gun industry, he may be the most dangerous scientist in America, more so starting on July 1. That’s when the University of California will release the first of $5 million to fund the UC Davis Firearms Violence Research Center, located in an unmarked building on Stockton Avenue, across from the UC Davis Medical Center.
A new study in PLOS ONE investigates how mass shootings influence the stock price of firearms manufacturers. While it is well known that mass shootings lead to increased firearms sales, the response from financial markets is unclear. On one hand, given the observed short-term increase in demand, firearm stock prices may rise due to the unexpected financial windfall for the firm. On the other, mass shootings may result in calls for regulation of the industry, leading to divestment of firearms stocks in spite of short-term demand. The study examines this tension using a market movement event study in the wake of 93 mass shootings in the U.S. between 2009 and 2013. Findings show that stock prices of firearm manufacturers decline after shootings; each event reducing prices between 22.4 and 49.5 basis points, per day. These losses are exacerbated by the presence of a handgun and the number of victims killed, but not affected by the presence of children or location of the event. Finally, the study finds that these effects are most prevalent in the period 2009–2010 but disappear in later events, indicating that markets appear to have accepted mass shootings as the “new normal.”
Just because gun sales aren’t booming at the same rate they were during the biggest year ever for firearms manufacturers, that doesn’t mean they’re not still rising, writes Fox Business News. Yet the way the market responded to the FBI release of April gun buyer background-check data, you’d think we were in the midst of a major downturn. The fact is, gun sales are surging; 2016 was the biggest year for gun sales. The FBI processed more than 27.5 million background checks last year, 19% more than it had the year before and more than double the number it did a decade ago. Gun sales were mostly driven by political considerations, as many gun owners and enthusiasts anticipated a different outcome in the presidential elections last November. When Donald Trump came out on top, the threat of new gun control legislation was largely removed from the table, and the need to buy a gun right away before new laws were enacted waned. But it didn’t eliminate the demand for new guns; it just deferred them. Gun control doesn’t really affect demand, only the timing of the purchase, typically pulling forward sales that would occur anyway. And that’s what we’re seeing with the FBI’s numbers so far in 2017.
The Illinois Senate passed a gun dealer licensing bill, known as Senate Bill 1657, in a 30-21 vote, according to Democratic Senator Don Harmon’s press office, reports WABC 7 Eyewitness News in Chicago. “This was a difficult and a controversial bill, I know,” Harmon said in a press release. “I appreciate the support of every senator who was able to put children and families ahead of the NRA.” According to the release, the bill would allow Illinois to license gun dealers and encourage better business practices while holding corrupt dealers accountable.