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SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS

Here’s what Americans search for after a mass shooting

Crosses with the names of victims of a school shooting, are pictured at a memorial outside Robb Elementary school, after a gunman killed nineteen children and two teachers, in Uvalde, Texas.
REUTERS/Marco Bello
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After a shooter killed 21 people at Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, searches for phrases such as “gun control”, “mass shooting”, and “protective gear” spiked on Google.

Search interest in the term “mass shooting” has remained high after hitting a peak after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012,  data from Google Trends show. The deadlier the shooting, the bigger the jump in searches.

While Google searches only offer a snapshot of data, they reveal some of the ways in which Americans process this kind of event in real-time. They also underscore how quickly interest in gun violence fades: The data show shooting-related searches are short-lived even though they are happening more frequently.

Here are other queries Americans google every time gun violence strikes:

Search trends for gun control

Over the past couple of decades, searches related to gun bans have skyrocketed after deadly school shootings. A federal assault weapons ban enacted under the Clinton administration expired in 2004. Mass shooting deaths rose in the following years.

Searches for “gun control” also spiked after the Sandy Hook and Parkland school shootings, as well as after other incidents of mass gun violence.

Searching for protection

Searches for protective gear, including bulletproof and kevlar backpacks, also rise after mass shootings. Manufacturers of bulletproof products typically see a spike in sales in the following days.

Searches for body armor and tactical gear increased in the wake of the recent Buffalo and Uvalde shootings. Both gunmen involved used military-style body armor, making those incidents deadlier.

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