1st Edition

Mass Shootings and Civilian Armament

By Alexei Anisin Copyright 2022
    152 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    152 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Mass Shootings and Civilian Armament provides the first comprehensive multi-methodological analysis of the relationship between mass shootings and firearm purchases (as proxied by background checks) in the US on national level data from 1999-2020.

    Since 1994, the number of civilian-owned firearms in the US has doubled to around 398 million while the population only grew by 70 million. On average, mass shootings have occurred once every two weeks over the last decade which is a major factor behind why social scientists have started to ask whether mass shootings play a causative role in civilian decisions to purchase guns. Utilizing a multi-methodological approach featuring quantitative, comparative/configurational, and qualitative methods, this book puts forward a theoretical framework and argues that mass shootings do increase civilian armament, but that this repetitious effect is historically contingent, asymmetric, and non-linear. Particular types of mass shootings are hypothesized to have driven and continue to bring about increased levels of civilian firearm purchases through different pathways and combinations of variables – those that feature high fatality counts; arise in areas of cultural importance, are ideologically motivated. First, inquiry into background check data (1999-2020) and data on 213 mass shootings and attempted mass shootings is carried out to find out which shootings (as well as controls) are significantly correlated with background check increases. Second, the findings are utilized in a theoretically driven comparative configurational assessment to test if the noted theoretical pathways are associated with the outcome of increased post-shooting armament. Third, the empirical analyses are complimented by three case studies – the 2011 Gabrielle Giffords shooting (illustrative of the high fatality pathway), the 2012 Colorado movie theater shooting (illustrative of the cultural pathway), and the 2015 Charleston Church shooting (illustrative of the ideologically driven pathway).

    Interdisciplinary in nature, Mass Shootings and Civilian Armament will not only be of great interest to scholars of Criminology, but will also speak to sociologists, economists, public policy scholars, political scientists, historians, as well as cultural studies and American studies scholars.



    1. Introduction: How Mass Shootings Spur Gun Purchases

    2. Why the Current Era of Gun Culture Differs from the Past

    3. Case Studies, Processes, and Causal Mechanisms

    4. Descriptive Trends in Background Checks and Mass Shootings

    5. Quantitative Analysis of Mass Shootings and Background Checks, 1999-2020

    6. A Configurational Analysis of Mass Shootings and Background Checks

    7. Looking Ahead, Has a Ceiling Been Reached?


    Alexei Anisin, PhD, is the Dean of the School of International Relations & Diplomacy at Anglo-American University in Prague, Czech Republic. He specializes in both qualitative and quantitative research on political instability, rare forms of political violence and homicide, and holds a deep interest in international politics and historical change.

    'Mass Shootings and Civilian Armament is a compelling study of the role mass shootings have played in the rising civilian armament in the United States. Through a novel theoretical framework, rigorous methodological techniques, Anisin provides important new insights to this field. Accessibly written, Mass Shootings and Civilian Armament is a must-read for policy-makers, researchers, students, and anyone interested in mass shootings.'

    Joel Capellan, Professor at Rowan University