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The Ohio State University

1. Dunphy, Christopher. Three Essays on the Economics of Firearms.

Degree: PhD, Agricultural, Environmental and Developmental Economics, 2019, The Ohio State University

The topic of firearms is one of the most divisive issues in the current political landscape. With the violent nature of guns and the recent outbreak of tragic mass shootings, gun control activists have been pursuing policies to regulate firearms. Meanwhile, gun enthusiasts have been pushing back against these legislation efforts, claiming that firearm regulations violate the second amendment of the United States Constitution. The goal of this dissertation is to provide a non-partisan economic analysis of consumer behavior, externalities, and policies as they relate to firearms in the United States. In the first essay of this dissertation, I analyze the effect of large mass shootings on firearm demand in the United States. I use background check data from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to construct a proxy for gun sales and estimate a sales increase of 7.7% during the three months following a large mass shooting. I show that this effect can be deconstructed into two underlying mechanisms, a substitution from “collective security” towards private security, and a stockpiling effect arising from a fear of gun control. I disentangle these effects by exploiting variation in gun control stances across presidential administrations, and find that both mechanisms help explain the impact of mass shootings on firearm demand. Furthermore, I provide guidance for future research seeking to utilize the variation in gun ownership after mass shootings to study the effect of firearms, and their related policies, on various socioeconomic outcomes. Specifically, I demonstrate the difficulties associated with producing unbiased estimates when utilizing the spatial variation in gun ownership after shootings, and argue that only the temporal within-state variation should be used in future research. In the second essay of this dissertation, I examine the impact of increasing firearm prevalence on suicide in the United States. Using mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Vital Statistics System database, and utilizing the exogenous temporal variation in gun ownership arising in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting as an instrument for gun ownership, I find that higher firearm prevalence increases suicide rates. Specifically, I find that total suicides increased by roughly 4% in the six months after the shooting, primarily driven from an increase in firearm suicides. Additionally, I find substantial heterogeneity across demographic groups, with the largest effects manifesting for the population subgroups most associated with gun ownership.In the third essay of this dissertation, I study the impact of unrestricted concealed carry laws on crime across counties within the United States. I use data on criminal offenses from the Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR), and estimate a generalized difference in difference model, exploiting the temporal and geographic variation in the implementation of these laws across states. I find that the laws have no… Advisors/Committee Members: Sheldon, Ian (Advisor).

Subjects/Keywords: Economics; Firearms; Externalities; Economics; Mass Shooting; Suicide; Concealed Carry

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APA (6th Edition):

Dunphy, C. (2019). Three Essays on the Economics of Firearms. (Doctoral Dissertation). The Ohio State University. Retrieved from

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Dunphy, Christopher. “Three Essays on the Economics of Firearms.” 2019. Doctoral Dissertation, The Ohio State University. Accessed November 17, 2019.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Dunphy, Christopher. “Three Essays on the Economics of Firearms.” 2019. Web. 17 Nov 2019.


Dunphy C. Three Essays on the Economics of Firearms. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. The Ohio State University; 2019. [cited 2019 Nov 17]. Available from:

Council of Science Editors:

Dunphy C. Three Essays on the Economics of Firearms. [Doctoral Dissertation]. The Ohio State University; 2019. Available from: