Greene-Colozzi & Silva 2022

Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at Justice Quarterly ISSN: (Print) (Online) Journal homepage: Contextualizing Firearms in Mass Shooting Incidents: A Study of Guns, Regulations, and Outcomes Emily Ann Greene-Colozzi & Jason R. Silva To cite this article: Emily Ann Greene-Colozzi & Jason R. Silva (2022) Contextualizing Firearms in Mass Shooting Incidents: A Study of Guns, Regulations, and Outcomes, Justice Quarterly, 39:4, 697-721, DOI: 10.1080/07418825.2020.1818805 To link to this article: Published online: 10 Sep 2020. Submit your article to this journal Article views: 1432 View related articles View Crossmark data Citing articles: 5 View citing articles
Contextualizing Firearms in Mass Shooting Incidents: A Study of Guns, Regulations, and Outcomes Emily Ann Greene-Colozzi a and Jason R. Silva b a Criminal Justice Doctoral Program, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, NY, USA; b Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, William Patterson University, Wayne, NJ, USA ABSTRACT The current study provides a quantitative examination of 634 fire- arms used in 348 mass shootings (1966 - 2018) through a unique firearm-level database. Specifically, this work identifies the rela- tionship between the types of firearms, methods of obtainment, firearm regulations, and incident outcomes. Findings indicate the most common firearms were handguns. They were often legally obtained by the perpetrator, from independently owned or oper- ated federally licensed firearms dealers. Although handgun- specific regulations did not appear to impact the legality of fire- arms, assault weapons bans were associated with an increase in illegal obtainment. Furthermore, the presence of a semiautomatic rifle and a higher number of guns were associated with increased casualties. A discussion of key findings provides important implications and future directions for scholars, practitioners, and policymakers. ARTICLE HISTORY Received 11 September 2019 Accepted 28 August 2020 KEYWORDS Mass shootings; firearms; gun policy Introduction The sensational nature of public mass shootings has contributed to extensive media attention, public concern, and political debate (Fox & DeLateur, 2014b ; Silva & Capellan, 2019b ). Firearm access is the most referenced causal factor across all forms of mass shooting discourse (Fox & DeLateur, 2014a , 2014b ; Schildkraut & Elsass, 2016 ; Schildkraut & Muschert, 2013 ), and this often influences policies about guns in America. For example, after the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, individual state legislatures passed 69 restrictive gun con- trol measures, including red flag laws, background checks, ownership and carry restric- tions, magazine capacity restrictions, and waiting periods (Astor & Russell, 2018 ). These policy responses to mass shootings have motivated fierce debate between gun rights advocates and gun control advocates (Schildkraut & Hernandez, 2014 ; Winkler, 2013 ). Gun rights advocates have traditionally perceived firearms restrictions as punishing lawful efforts to purchase and own guns while failing to control criminal use (Winkler, 2013 ). Conversely, the gun control movement takes a more risk-averse perspective, advocating for stricter regulation and oversight for all potential gun owners to ß 2020 Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences CONTACT Emily Ann Greene-Colozzi [email protected] JUSTICE QUARTERLY 2022, VOL. 39, NO. 4, 697 - 721
minimize overall risk to the public (Winkler, 2013 ). These conflicting attitudes make firearm ownership one of the most contentious issues in the United States (Igielnik & Brown, 2017 ; Winkler, 2013 ; Wolpert & Gimpel, 1998 ), and emphasizes the importance of empirical evidence examining the firearms used in mass shootings. The high profile nature of mass shootings has made them representative of the gun violence problem at-large (Fox & DeLateur, 2014b ; Kleck, 2009 ), yet previous research on general firearm violence (e.g. gang, profit-driven, drug related, etc.) is not a reliable source for assessing public mass shootings (and vice versa) (Capellan & Gomez, 2018 ; Schildkraut & Elsass, 2016 ). For instance, research finds mass shooters often engage in some type of planning prior to the offense (Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), 2018; Fox & Levin, 2003 ; Osborne & Capellan, 2017 ; Silver, Horgan, & Gill, 2019 ; Vossekuil, Reddy, Fein, Borum, & Modzeleski, 2000 ), while other " common " firearm violence arises at the intersection of routine activities (Watts, 2018 ). As such, mass shootings are a unique type of firearm violence that requires an individualized approach to empirical assessment and prevention (Fox & DeLateur, 2014a ; Kleck, 2009 ). Mass shooting research has historically focused on understanding why shoot- ings happen, with a focus on perpetrator characteristics and motivations (e.g. Fox & Savage, 2009 ; Langman, 2009 ; Lankford, 2016a ; Levin & Madfis, 2009 ; Newman, Fox, Harding, Mehta, & Roth, 2004 ). Recent scholarship has focused attention on contextu- alizing the guns used in mass shootings, including the types of firearms used (Blau, Gorry, & Wade, 2016 ; Capellan & Gomez, 2018 ), methods of acquisition (Krouse & Richardson, 2015 ), and legislation surrounding the phenomenon (Blau et al., 2016 ; Duwe, Kovandzic, & Moody, 2002 ). The current study adds to this body of literature by developing a firearm-level data- base to examine the 634 firearms that were present during 348 mass shooting inci- dents between 1966 and 2018. These firearms are evaluated in the context of six related research questions aimed at understanding the: (1) type, number, and firing action of firearms present during mass shootings; (2) changes in mass shooting fire- arms used over time; (3) legality and specific obtainment strategies for accessing these firearms; (4) state firearm regulations in place at the time of attacks; (5) impact of fire- arm regulations on legality of firearm obtainment; and (6) impact of firearm action, number, and gun laws on incident casualties. These findings offer a different perspec- tive on mass shootings by disaggregating the firearms from the incident and present- ing a more detailed description of type, firing mechanism, obtainment, and legal context. Results will advance scholarly and law enforcement understanding of the rela- tionship between mass shooters, guns, and gun laws, as well as help to clarify empiric- ally supported gun policy prescriptions for mitigating mass shootings. Literature review Mass shooting firearms research Studies investigating mass shooting firearms have primarily focused on the type and number of firearms used during the attack. Blau and colleagues ' (2016) incident-level investigation of 184 mass, active, and spree shootings found the number of guns and use of an " assault weapon " significantly increased injuries and fatalities. " Assault " (i.e. 698 E. A. GREENE-COLOZZI AND J. R. SILVA
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