Mass Shootings and Gun Violence: Why Buffalo? Why Uvalde?

In Analysis by Michael Rae

When I get to criminal law at the end of the semester, I ask my law & economics students, “why do mass shootings seem to be on the rise?” The recent horrific events in Buffalo, NY, and Uvalde, TX, raise that question again. The headlines were followed by the usual demands to “do something,” meaning enact more stringent gun control laws, which, of course, criminals will not obey.
The first answer to my question relies on what the literature calls marginal deterrence. Most scholars accept that the criminal law’s purpose is to deter criminal acts. (Adam Smith thought that statutes proscribing

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