Google Search data can be used to provide a variety of interesting demographic and cultural insights. Following the San Bernardino shooting earlier this week, the Google team decided to dig into the search data for the terms “gun shop” and “gun control”. The results, while not really surprising, do illustrate the complex nature of the issue of gun control in the U.S., especially the geographic and urban-rural divide in perspective on the subject.
Google searches for “gun control” skyrocket after San Bernardino shooting
Google examined the searches for “gun control” and “gun shop” before the San Bernardino shooting on Wednesday and after, and discovered that people were searching for the two terms almost diametrically opposite before and after the shooting. .
“Gun shop” has been a much more common search than “gun control” in 2015, especially in the southern U.S.. There were several states in the northeast and in the west and northwest part of the country that had more Google searches for “gun control” this year.
That completely changed on Wednesday after the San Bernardino shooting hit the wires. Except for firearm bastions of Kentucky and Tennessee, there were more searches in every state for “gun control” than searches for “gun shop.”
The Google Search data also showed that the spike in popularity of gun control over gun shop also occurred on October 1 after the shooting at the Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon, but it has not happen for any of the other mass shootings this year.
Of interest, the top questions searched for on with the term gun control was people looking for answers to “what is gun control?,” followed by “why is gun control bad?” and next “why is gun control good?”
Also of note, the searches for gun control increased dramatically in bigger, more liberal cities around the country. The Google data showed that the number one location searching for “gun control is Portland, Oregon, then Austin, Seattle, Denver and Los Angeles.