• Gun control is a prominent political issue, especially in the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14, which claimed 17 lives.
• Google Trends maps show which states search more for “gun control” and which search more for “gun shops.”
• In the past year, “gun shops” was a more popular search term in most states. After Stoneman Douglas, the trend has largely reversed.
In America, mass shootings are typically followed by a rush to purchase more guns.
In the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14, however, something surprising happened. Gun shares actually dropped.
Google Trends has collected data that may bolster that picture. The last week of February, searches for “gun control” beat out searches for “gun shops” in the majority of states (see map above). Kentucky and Tennessee were the only standouts where “gun shops” continued to dominate.
Those numbers stand in stark contrast to Google Trends’ breakdown of search terms from the past year.
Over the past year, more people searched for “gun shops” than “gun control” in the majority of states. The only exceptions were Washington, California, Montana, Utah, Colorado, Iowa, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.
This map shows the searches for “gun control” and “gun shop” over the past year:
The annual data lines up with a trend that has emerged in the wake of many mass shootings. Gun stocks tend to rally when speculation about gun control sends some Americans scrambling to buy more firearms – especially models that seem at risk of being banned.
Google also found that many searches “focused around the AR15-type assault rifle, which has been used in a number of mass shooting incidents.”
After the Sandy Hook massacre in December 2012, the surge in gun purchases was followed by an increase in accidental gun deaths. Gun manufacturer shares also soared after the Las Vegas shooting in October 2017 claimed 59 lives.
But the school shooting in Parkland, Florida on Valentines Day this year prompted retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart to change their gun sales policies – and for more Americans to turn their attention, or at least their search terms, to gun control.