In Atlanta, there’s suddenly more interest in gun control than gun shows

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Atlanta hosted the 2017 NRA convention. AJC photo: Hyosub Shin

In Atlanta, which in May hosted the National Rifle Association’s national convention, searches for “gun control” took a leap over searches for “gun shows” in the days since the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, according to Google data.

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Here’s a link that charts Atlanta searches for those two terms over time. Below is a still image illustrating searches in recent days.

This chart illustrates Google searches conducted in Atlanta this week.

 

Atlanta users’ interest in gun shows has been robust for years, according to Google data. Over the past five years, only Dallas registers a higher level of searches for that term. The cities reflecting the greatest number of searches for “gun control” over that period are Colorado Springs, Colo., Saint Paul, Minn., Tulsa, Okla., Salt Lake City, Utah and Arlington, Val.

The NRA has in recent days called for regulation of “bump stock” devices, which increase the speed at which semi-automatic weapons can fire. It also underscored its commitment to protecting Americans’ Second Amendment rights.

“Banning guns from law-abiding Americans based on the criminal act of a madman will do nothing to prevent future attacks,” a statement posted by executive director Chris Cox said.

It’s a trend that’s surfaced before, usually in conjunction with other high-profile mass shootings. For example, here’s a look at search trends conducted soon after the June 12, 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando:

Image: Google

 

Generally speaking, Atlanta users’ searches for “gun control” and “gun shows” are about even, Google data show.

Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old retiree who lived in a quiet, comfortable community in Mesquite, Nev., purchased his weapons legally, had no health or money problems and had no ties to extremist groups, authorities, gun shop owners and his confounded brother say.

His father, though, was a notorious criminal once described as “a psychopath” by law enforcement.

In recent news conferences, Las Vegas authorities have described the enormous cache of weapons recovered at Paddock’s home and hotel room. He also set up cameras in his hotel room, presumably to keep an eye out for authorities.

The parallel searches by media and law enforcement to suss out a possible motivation for Paddock’s actions aren’t coming up with much. The portrait CNN stitched together after talking with neighbors, restaurant servers and others revealed he was a quiet, twice-divorced guy who kept to himself, got his hair cut regularly, invested in real estate and tipped well at restaurants. His brother and others who knew him well described him as generous.

Cops aren’t coming up with a lot more.

During a news briefing this week, Las Vegas Undersheriff Kevin McMahill sounded weary as he addressed sourced reports that Paddock had wired money overseas and had recently been gambling to the tune of $10,000 per day.

“I understand in the insatiable appetite of the media that you want some answers, but I’m going to make it very clear to you that I need some patience. This investigation is a long time from being completed,” he said. “Nobody wants answers to ‘why’ more than the police and the victims’ families. We have a responsibility to get it right. That’s going to take time, and that’s why we’re going to take that time.”

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