Media Blog

The Facts on Guns and Mass Shootings

The Congressional Research Service has a new study out calculating how many people have been killed in the United States in mass shootings since 1983. The number is 547, not including the shooters.

That’s roughly 18 per year.

As the United States averages 54 lightning deaths per year, you are three times more likely to be struck and killed by lightning than to be gunned down in a mass shooting. As Joe Biden would say, “literally.”

And on the plus side, a different CRS study analyzed the economic impact of increased sales of guns and ammunition. It seems our gun culture is a “boon” for the environment. Via National Journal:

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. And, it seems, what’s good for the gun industry is good for the goose. Through a federal excise tax on guns and ammunition, the booming industry is providing a nine-figure windfall to state conservation programs, according to a Congressional Research Service report issued this month.

The Wildlife Restoration Program, prescribed by the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937, distributes excise-tax revenues collected in the previous year to state wildlife agencies. The money goes toward programs for hunter training and wildlife conservation, paying for the upkeep of nature preserves, and providing capital to buy and protect new parcels of undeveloped land. Funds distributed by the program, which also draw on a tax on archery equipment, are expected to rise 38 percent this year to $534 million, up from $388 million in 2012, according to the report. That total, though, does not account for sequestration, which could shave $21 million from this year’s disbursements.

Much of the uptick in gun-buying appears motivated by long-simmering fears that the Obama administration will institute tough gun-control measures. Revenues from the 10 to 11 percent firearms tax jumped 45 percent in fiscal 2009, which began just before his election.

The trend shows no sign of abating. Revenues from the excise tax were up an additional 40 percent in the first quarter of 2013 over the same period last year. And the revenue bump could get even bigger. According to Jane Gravelle, senior specialist in economic policy at CRS and coauthor of the study, the reported numbers do not yet reflect the surge in gun and ammunition purchases since the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. That’s because the tax is paid by manufacturers, who would not have felt the effects of the buying spree before the close of the fiscal quarter at the end of 2012.

The rest here.

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