When particularly deadly mass shootings take place, renewed attention is placed on the possible causes and potential solutions that could help the United States deal with this trenchant problem. Two of the most widely discussed factors often involve mental illness and gun availability. In both areas, claims are often influenced by political and emotional factors.
With four mass public shootings (in Metro Atlanta, GA; Orange, CA; Boulder, CO; and Indianapolis, IN) all within a one-month time span this year, the problem has once again taken center stage in the consciousness of the American public. James Alan Fox–Northeastern University Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law, and Public Policy–and Emma Fridel–former Northeastern University doctoral student–introduced policy solutions to address mass shootings, which were published online by the Rockefeller Institute for Government.
In this policy brief, the authors discuss gun control and mass shootings, drawing on a recent empirical study they conducted that focused on a specific type of mass shooting—those that occur in public settings. They first review definitions of mass shootings and then discuss issues related to identifying the effects of gun control measures. They conclude with an overview of the study and the implications it holds for future public policy.