Do gun shows have an effect on rates of gun injury?

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Photo from Wired.com

Do gun shows increase the rate of gun violence?

Gun violence and gun control have been hot button topics for years, this article from wired.com explores research done by an epidemiologist at UC Berkley that was intended to determine whether gun shows in California and Nevada would subsequently increase rates of gun injuries.  The study looked at the rate of gun incidents two weeks pre and post each gun show, in areas that were determined convenient driving distances from it (up to 120 minutes). The conclusion of the article and the study, was that though it was unclear why, gun shows in California had no effect on related incidents, whereas gun shows in Nevada spiked related incidents in California by as much as 70%.

I thought it was interesting that the title and large part of the article was devoted to explaining how the researchers had to go through copies of The Big Show Journal to get information on when and where gun shows were, as there is no official database of that information. While it was interesting information, I didn’t feel that it contributed much to the overall article, and it’s purpose was more to give it its clickbait-y  title: To Study Violence After Gun Shows, Researchers Turn To An Unlikely Source. I don’t really know why, but I automatically like any site less when it uses blatant clickbait like that.

More to the point, as to why California shows would have no effect, while Nevada shows would spike California injuries, it was speculated by the researchers that it could be caused by the differences in policy between the two states. California has comparatively high gun regulation, with background checks, ten day waiting periods between purchasing and obtaining a gun, and more heavily regulated gun shows. Nevada on the other hand has much looser gun laws, no waiting period, and no requirement to document private sales. It’s possible that California residents may cross the border to Nevada where guns are easier to obtain. As we can see in this image of gun show locations, a large portion are near the border, making it relatively easy for California residents to access them.M171792ff2_Appendix_Figure 2_Locations_of_gun_shows_in_California_and_Nevada

 

There are however some limitations to the study. As was mentioned, Nevada does not require the documentation of private gun sales, so it’s nearly impossible to determine if the guns involved in the incidents spike were obtained at a Nevada gun show, or if it was due to another factor, such as influx of ammunition. Additionally, this was only a study of two states, and only one of them was actually studied for the effects of the gun shows, (which also happens to have lots of gangs). More data is needed before passing definitive judgment on whether Nevada gun shows has a causal relation to the incident spikes in California, and a whole lot more is needed before we could even think about extrapolating findings to the rest of the country.

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