U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

The Relation Between State Gun Laws and the Incidence and Severity of Mass Public Shootings in the United States, 1976-2018

NCJ Number
Law and Human Behavior Volume: 44 Issue: 5 Dated: 2020 Pages: 347-360
M. Siegel; et al
Date Published
14 pages

In this study, we analyzed the relationship between state firearm laws and the incidence and severity (i.e., number of victims) of mass public shootings in the United States during the period 1976–2018.


We hypothesized that states requiring permits to purchase firearms would have a lower incidence of mass public shootings than states not requiring permits. We also hypothesized that states banning large-capacity ammunition magazines would experience a lower number of victims in mass public shootings that did occur than states without bans. Method: We developed a panel of annual, state-specific data on firearm laws and mass public shooting events and victim counts. We used a generalized estimating equations logistic regression to examine the relationship between eight state firearm laws and the likelihood of a mass public shooting. We then used a zero-inflated negative binomial model to assess the relationship between these laws and the number of fatalities and nonfatal injuries in these incidents. Results: State laws requiring a permit to purchase a firearm were associated with 60% lower odds of a mass public shooting occurring (95% confidence interval [CI: −32%, −76%]). Large-capacity magazine bans were associated with 38% fewer fatalities (95% CI [−12%, −57%]) and 77% fewer nonfatal injuries (95% CI [−43%, −91%]) when a mass shooting occurred. Conclusion: Laws requiring permits to purchase a gun are associated with a lower incidence of mass public shootings, and bans on large capacity magazines are associated with fewer fatalities and nonfatal injuries when such events do occur.