Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Lyndsay Boggess, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lorie Fridell, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ojmarrh Mitchell, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Steven Berman, Ph.D.


Fear of attacks, Gun availability, Political influence, Political climate


Mass shootings are one of the most discussed issues in American society. While it is evident who the main victims are, the impact of such an event reaches far beyond the lives that were directly impacted. One of the main effects mass shootings have been found to have is a spike in gun sales (Wallace, 2015; Studert et. al., 2017 ; Turchan et. al., 2017). This finding has been found time and time again by academic and non-academic researchers, and it is one of the most commonly believed ideas regarding the effects of mass shootings (Aish & Keller, 2016). The current study builds on previous research to determine whether a Democratic Government has a moderating effect on the mass shootings - gun sales relationship. There are two main hypotheses. Hypothesis one is that mass shootings increase gun sales. Hypothesis two predicts that when Democrats are in power, the increase in gun sales following a mass shooting is higher than when Republicans are in power. This hypothesis comes from the idea that gun enthusiasts will not only fear attacks, but they will also fear changes in gun regulation when Democrats are in power (Adams & Daniel, 2017). To test this hypothesis, a Democratic Government variable was created, and it measured which party controls the Presidency, and holds majority at the House of Representatives, and the Senate. Using FBI background check information as a proxy for gun sales, OLS regressions determined hypothesis one did not have support, while hypothesis two was partially supported, meaning the interaction between a Democratic Government and mass shootings is relevant to gun sales. It is worth noting that this relationship went in the opposite direction than what was expected, since it was found that Democrats holding office actually lead to a decrease in gun sales following a mass shooting. An explanation for why this might be the case, and why the first hypothesis was not supported is presented. Study limitations and future research directions are also discussed.