The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida that resulted in the untimely deaths of 17 people has left the entire country shaken up and worrying for the safety of our youth.
New data from Google Trends provides a glimmer of light for those hoping that there might soon be changes when it comes to gun control in the United States. Whereas mass shootings usually trigger surges in the number of searches for gun shops, Google’s figures for the last week of February show that the keywords “gun control” were looked up with more frequency than “gun shops” in 48 states — Kentucky and Tennessee being the only exceptions.
This is a significant reversal of what Google has recorded over the past year, which shows that people in 38 states consistently searched for “gun shops” more than they looked up “gun control.”
This shift in what the public is interested in reading about mirrors another more concrete piece of evidence proving that widespread attitudes might be changing: Gun stocks have fallen after the Valentine’s Day shooting.
Usually, gun shares rise after mass shootings as gun proponents afraid of legislators implementing stricter laws rush to stores to quickly buy firearms. Even after last year’s Las Vegas shooting that took the lives of 58 people, the highest death toll of any gun-related massacre in America, gun stocks still rose.
With the Parkland survivors taking on highly-visible roles as advocates for gun control after the trauma they went through two weeks ago, it hasn’t been as easy for pro-gun politicians and the National Rifles Association (NRA) to divert the public’s attention as it has been in the past.
Rather than allowing legislators to insist that it was too soon after the tragedy to talk about politics — a tactic that often ends up shutting down a significant portion of the conversation long enough for people to forget about what happened — students who made it out of the shooting have seized the narrative and insisted that the time to talk about gun control is immediately.
Dozens of companies have ended benefits programs for NRA members amid pressure from consumers to boycott the group. Additionally, President Donald Trump recently appeared to embrace the idea of instituting a few measures to make purchasing guns more difficult.
Ultimately, though, the most effective way to bring change soon will be to vote for candidates who support gun control in November’s midterm elections.
Banner/Thumbnail Credit: Reuters, Jonathan Drake