“This doesn’t happen in other countries.” We have heard this over and over again since Tuesday. Mass shootings don’t happen in other countries. In fact, The Onion on Wednesday changed their homepage so that every headline on the whole site said: “‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.” It is a very common claim. The United States is unique across the entire world in this respect, the Left says. Are they right? No, of course not.
In fact, just south of the border this week more than a dozen gunmen in Mexico shot up a hotel and killed 11 people. Mass casualty attacks happen all the time in Mexico and all across Central and South America. They happen, quite famously, in the Middle East and all over Africa and many parts of Asia. Indeed, to make the claim that we’re the only country where this kind of thing happens, you must disregard, from the outset, the vast majority of the globe and the vast majority of the people on it. This seems like a rather important qualifier that the person claiming “we’re the only place where this happens” should mention. They should stipulate that by “only place” they mean the only place if you don’t count almost the entire world.
Of course, the mass shootings in a place like Mexico are often different than they are here. They’re the same in that the victims are just as dead in either case. But the attacks in Mexico are almost always cartel related. In East Africa, the terrorist group Al-Shabab is usually responsible. In other parts of the world it’s a different terror cell or crime network. That’s because young, violent, hopeless, nihilistic men in Mexico are likely to end up working for cartels. In East Africa, they’re likely going to find Al-Shabab as their outlet. In America, they either end up joining street gangs or they stay isolated in their mom’s basement until one day they explode. Different manifestations but a similar phenomenon.
This is the reason, by the way, why rankings of “school shootings” are irrelevant. You’ve perhaps seen that World Population Review list floating around showing that America has hundreds of school shootings while a country like Afghanistan has had only three. What they neglect to mention is that Afghanistan also has only three people in school. There’s lots of murder and mass slaughter happening in that country, it just doesn’t happen at school very often because school isn’t a big part of their culture. As I said, different manifestations, but still the same sort of thing.
I made this point on Twitter yesterday and I was immediately informed that my argument isn’t relevant because when people say that we’re the only place in the world where this happens, they really just mean among Western countries. Well, that’s a bit awkward, isn’t it? So what you’re saying is that only the predominantly white countries count? I’m not sure I agree with you, but let’s pretend that I do. Is it true that we’re the only country in the Western world where this happens? No. In fact a ranking of annual death rate per million from mass shootings in North America and Europe, according to World Population Review, puts us at number 11, behind the Czech Republic, Belgium, Finland, Switzerland, Slovakia, Albania, Macedonia, France, Serbia, and Norway. You could point out that Norway makes the list — tops it, in fact — largely because of one major attack back in 2011. That’s true. But that’s what happens when you measure this on a per capita basis, which you have to, because Norway has 5 million people and we have 330 million. Only a per capita comparison can have any meaning, and when you measure it like that, the United States does not particularly stand out.
John Lott with the Crime Prevention Research Center published a report on this two years ago. Here’s what it says in the abstract:
The U.S. is well below the world average in terms of the number of mass public shootings, and the global increase over time has been much bigger than for the United States. Over the 20 years from 1998 to 2017, our list contains 2,772 attacks and at least 5,764 shooters outside the United States and 62 attacks and 66 shooters within our country. By our count, the US makes up less than 1.13% of the mass public shooters, 1.77% of their murders, and 2.19% of their attacks. All these are much less than the US’s 4.6% share of the world population. Attacks in the US are not only less frequent than other countries, they are also much less deadly on average. Out of the 101 countries where we have identified mass public shootings occurring, the United States ranks 66th in the per capita frequency of these attacks and 56th in the murder rate. Not only have these attacks been much more common outside the US, the US’s share of these attacks has declined over time.”
And this is all the case even though the US is unique in having such a large and demographically mixed population. What does this prove? That we don’t have a problem? That we should do nothing to protect our kids in school? No, obviously not. All it proves is that the narrative from the Left is false. And the fact that it’s false is important because the truth is important. Anyone trying to solve a problem by misrepresenting it, is not actually trying to solve the problem. All they’re trying to do is exploit it.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.