Research finds correlation between mass shootings and gun control laws

After the recent shootings in Virginia, the topic of gun control has come up once again. Many people argue whether or not there is a correlation between mass shootings and a country’s gun control.

Dr. Adam Lankford, associate professor in criminal justice, has research that finds there is in fact a correlation.

“I've been working on this study for the past two years, but researching mass shooters for much longer than that,” Lankford said. “For the past few years every time there was a mass shooting, people would suggest that this seems to be a bigger problem in America than anywhere else, but no global statistics existed on the subject. So that was my first goal: to understand how the U.S. compared to the rest of the world.”

Lankford gathered his information from 171 different countries and reports from many different sources including shooter reports from the New York Police Department. His research was conducted along the guidelines of public shootings that resulted in the death of four or more people, and excluded homicides during domestic disputes, hostage situations or robberies.

Related story: Shoot, write, rinse, repeat

“One interesting finding was that there was a statistically significant relationship between firearm ownership rates and the number of public mass shooters in different countries, including many nations besides the U.S,” Lankford said. “By contrast, homicide rates and suicide rates were not significant predictors.”

Many new sources, including the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post have recently cited Lankford’s work in their stories of the WDBJ shooting.

“The shooting in Virginia came after my study was already complete, but it does fit with my findings, including the attacker's delusions of grandeur and apparent desires for fame,” Lankford said.

Lankford traveled to Chicago to present his work, and said he may present it in other cities as well in the upcoming months.

Ted Sexton, an instructor on campus with 37 years of law enforcement experience, said he has had a chance to see small portions of Lankford’s work and agrees that there are concerning issues growing in the U.S.

“From a law enforcement perspective, there are a wide variety of issues that go into these shootings,” Sexton said. “Folks unfortunately looking for 15 minutes of fame, gang related incidents, work place violence. You see people of all walks of life in these situations. All these things, to try to get themselves seen, either to be a martyr in some countries, or to make a name for themselves on the way out. The access and control is not the issue at hand however, it’s how do we keep guns away from those with workplace violence habits, mental illnesses or domestic violence cases.”

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