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CA – CAMPUS GUNS – Research Ties Gun Purchases to Fear of Firearm Regulations, Kicks off Major Research Initiative

Surges in firearm acquisition after mass shootings is a well-documented phenomenon, but analytic research into the causes of this behavior — be it driven by a desire for self-protection, or a fear that access to firearms will be curtailed — is sparse. A new study by a multi-university collaborative, led at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health by James Macinko, professor in the departments of Community Health Sciences and Health Policy and Management, is applying a data science methodology to create a model of the “firearms ecosystem” to identify how decisions to buy guns are affected by individual, social network, and state-level factors. “This study was motivated by our initial findings that gun purchases were more closely tied to fear of firearm regulations, rather than concerns about protecting oneself or one’s family,” said Macinko, referring to work published in the journal Nature Human Behavior. “The next step is study of the causal relationships between firearm prevalence, state legislation, media exposure, and people’s opinion on firearm-related harms, and then linking these factors together to allow us to understand why we see different patterns of firearm-related harms across different cities and states.” This comprehensive effort is backed by a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The four-year project is under the NSF’s LEAP HI program (Leading Engineering for America’s Prosperity, Health and Infrastructure). The lead institution is New York University, with additional principal investigators at Georgia State and Northeastern.  [full article]

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