One of the great things about 21st Century Technology is the amount of information so easily available.
Google Trends data reports that searches for “gun control” skyrocketed Thursday night, hours after a gunman opened fire at a small community college in the town of Roseburg.
Google queries for “gun control” started climbing early Thursday afternoon, when news of the tragedy broke, and searches peaked around 8 p.m., as shown in the graph below:
And here are some of the most popular gun control-related questions people asked Google between Thursday and Friday:
Clearly these data show correlations; not causation! However, it is interesting formation. Google is constantly looking at spikes like this to perhaps from some clues on what is happening at the local level. For example, if Google sees a spike in questions about the “FLU” in a particular location they might want to report it to the local health authorities.
On average, Google searches for “gun shop” have been more popular than searches for “gun control” in 2015. But in the 24 hours following the Oregon shooting, queries for “gun control” surpassed “gun shop” in all U.S. states, with the exception of Kentucky.
Compare the two maps below:
A similar search pattern emerged in June 2015 after a mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.