May 21, 2022

Research/Conference Paper: “After Sandy Hook Elementary: A Year in the Gun Control Debate on Twitter”

Note: The following full text paper was recently shared by the authors on arXiv. It was presented at Data For Good Exchange 2016 on September 25th.


After Sandy Hook Elementary: A Year in the Gun Control Debate on Twitter


Adrian Benton
Johns Hopkins University

Braden Hancock
Stanford University

Glen Coppersmith

John W. Ayers
San Diego State University

Mark Dredz
Johns Hopkins University


via arXiv


The mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school on December 14, 2012 catalyzed a year of active debate and legislation on gun control in the United States. Social media hosted an active public discussion where people expressed their support and opposition to a variety of issues surrounding gun legislation. In this paper, we show how a content-based analysis of Twitter data can provide insights and understanding into this debate. We estimate the relative support and opposition to gun control measures, along with a topic analysis of each camp by analyzing over 70 million gun-related tweets from 2013. We focus on spikes in conversation surrounding major events related to guns throughout the year. Our general approach can be applied to other important public health and political issues to analyze the prevalence and nature of public opinion.

Direct to Full Text Article (6 pages; PDF)

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Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.