UPDATED: Comparing Death Rates from Mass Public Shootings and Mass Public Violence in the US and Europe

23 Jun , 2015  

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1) In his address to the nation after the Charleston attack, Obama claimed:  “we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of ore ass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.  It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.

Senator Harry Reid made a similar statement on June 23rd: “The United States is the only advanced country where this type of mass violence occurs.  Let’s do something. We can expand, for example, background checks. … We should support not giving guns to people who are mentally ill and felons.

We prefer not to make purely cross-sectional comparisons, but this claim is simply not true.  The data below looks at the period of time from the beginning of the Obama administration in January 2009 until the end of 2015.  Mass public shootings – defined as four or more people killed in a public place, and not in the course of committing another crime, and not involving struggles over sovereignty.  The focus on excluding shootings that do not involve other crimes (e.g., gang fights or robberies) has been used from the original research by Lott and Landes to more recently the FBI) from 2009 to the Charleston massacre (this matches the starting period for another recent study we did on US shootings and we chose that because that was the starting point that Bloomberg’s group had picked).  The cases were complied doing a news search.  The starting year was picked simply because it match a report the time frame from a recent Bloomberg report and when we evaluated that report it was the last year we looked at Mass Public Shootings in the US starting in 2009.

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Some people have defended President Obama’s statement by pointing to the word “frequency.”  But, even if one puts it in terms of frequency, the president’s statement is still false, with the US ranking 12th compared to European countries.

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Click on Tables to Enlarge

There were 55% more casualties per capita from mass public shootings in EU than US from 2009-15

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US MPS 2009 through 2015

The CPRC has also collected data on the worst mass public shootings, those cases where at least 15 people were killed in the attack.

There were 16 cases where at least 15 people were killed. Out of those cases, four were in the United States, two in Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.

But the U.S. has a population four times greater than Germany’s and five times the U.K.’s, so on a per-capita basis the U.S. ranks low in comparison — actually, those two countries would have had a frequency of attacks 1.96 (Germany) and 2.46 (UK) times higher.

Small countries such as Norway, Israel and Australia may have only one major attack each, one-fourth of what the U.S. has suffered, but the US population is vastly greater.  If they suffered attacks at a rate adjusted for their population, Norway, Israel and Australia would have had attacks that were respectively 16, 11, and 3 times greater than the US.

There is also the issue of what President Obama meant by “mass violence.”  If you include bombings, many countries face many more bombings than the US does.  On March 22nd, 2016, Belgium had a bombing attacks at an airport and subway that killed 31 people and wounded 180.  That is worse than any mass public shooting in the US in terms of fatalities and woundings.  Or take just the bombing cases in Russia.  Russia had few mass public shootings, but it suffered from numerous bomb attacks, with 1.31 mass bombing murders per million people.

Russia Bombing cases


Regarding worldwide terrorism rates, the US State Department has these number for 2007 to 2011.  Click on figure to enlarge.

US State Department Worldwide Attacks

2) From Post on June 23, 2015: Last Friday, Obama said: “If congress had passed some common sense gun reforms after Newtown, after a group of children had been gunned down in their own classroom. Reforms that 90% of the American people supported, we wouldn’t have prevented every act of violence, or even most, we don’t know if it would have prevented what would have happened in Charleston, but we might still have some more Americans with us.

— There is no evidence that 90% of Americans supported the reforms that Obama was pushing.  It is true that 80% to 90% of Americans say that they support background checks on “all gun buyers” (see also here and here), but that is not the same as saying that they supported universal background checks and it is not the same thing as them saying that they supported the law that Obama wanted.  When asked this question people may be thinking of guns being purchased at a store and possibly a gun show, but it isn’t at all clear that they are talking about a transfer between friends (either a gift or a sale) and it is very doubtful that they are referring to transfers between family members.  Surveys that specifically address the background check bill before the Senate in 2013 do not show overwhelming support.  The most support that I can find for such a bill was in Washington State where initiative 594 was passed with 59% support, not 90%, and it had spending that out did the initiative’s opponents by about 33-to-1.

— None of the laws that Obama has put forward would have had any impact on either Newtown or Charleston.  The Charleston killer apparently did pass a background check, and, in any case, he obtained his gun by stealing it from his Mom.

On Monday, June 22nd, President Obama made similar comments and also added: “And one of those actions we could take would be to enhance some basic commonsense gun safety laws that, by the way, the majority of gun owners support.”  This claim has the same problem that Obama’s other statement has.

3) From Post on June 23, 2015: Here is another claim by Obama from last Friday: “You don’t see murder on this kind of scale, with this kind of frequency, in any other advanced nation on Earth.

Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post has this useful discussion on an earlier similar claim by Obama.

The best proxy for “industrialized countries” is the membership of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. There are currently 34 countries in the OECD, but the agency also includes Brazil and Russia in its statistical data. (The two countries have been negotiating for membership but talks have been suspended with Russia because of the Crimea crisis.)

The OECD says the average homicide rate among the 36 countries is 4.1 per 100,000 people.

According to the 2014 data, at the top of the list is Brazil, with a homicide rate 25.5, or six times the average. Next on the list is Mexico, with a homicide rate of 23.4, followed by Russia at 12.8.

Then comes a tie for fourth place—Chile and the United States both have a homicide rate of 5.2. Estonia follows close behind with a homicide rate of 4.7. . . .

Homicide rates OECD 2011 or latest


The bigger question is the one of causation that President Obama keeps pushing and the evidence on that can be found here and here.  His claim on that is also clearly wrong.

UPDATE: Politifact has discussion on fatality rates from mass public shootings, where they rank the US as the fourth highest country.  Their analysis looks at data from 2000 to 2014, but it is clear that their analysis is flawed.  They have a much broader definition of these attacks where they included cases where no one was killed.  Still they are missing a large number of cases in foreign countries, even when one is looking cases where 4 or more people were killed.

For example for France, they claim that from 2000 to 2014 there is only one such shooting and eight people were killed in that case.  They missed at least 16 deaths in just cases where four or more people have been killed.  We have also added in a few cases prior to 2000.  However, we do not believe that we have obtained more than a fraction of the mass public shootings in Europe prior to 2009.

Paris, France, August 9, 1982: 6 killed and 22 wounded in an attack at a Jewish Restaurant by the Abu Nidal Organization .
Bayonne, France, September 25, 1985: 4 killed and one wounded  A terrorist attack at the Monbar Hotel where four Basques were killed by the group GAL (“Antiterrorist Liberation Groups”).
Paris, France, October 4, 1994: 4 killed. Florence Rey was a 19 year old student studying philosophy at the Science-Po.
Cuers, France, September 24, 1995: Éric Borel shot to death 12 people and wounded 4 others while walking down a street in the town of Cuers.  He has killed three members of his family the previous day.
Tours, France, Oct. 29, 2001: Four people were killed and ten wounded when a French railway worker started shooting at a busy intersection 
Nanterre, France, March 27, 2002: 8 deaths, 19 injured Gunman opened fire at a town council meeting
Toulouse, France, March 19, 2012: Four shot dead at Jewish school in France
There are also other attacks in France that met their criteria, but we would not normally collect
Toulouse, France, March 15, 2012: Two French soldiers killed and one critically injured, other minor injuries in drive-by street shooting
For Finland
Tuusula, Finland, Nov. 7, 2007: Seven students and the principal killed at a high school
Kauhajoki, Finland, Sept. 23, 2008: Ten people shot to death at a college
Espoo, Finland, Dec. 31, 2009: five people shot to death at a mall
For Germany
Berlin, Germany, September 17, 1992: 4 killed, one wounded.  Masked gunmen burst into a Berlin restaurant late on a Thursday night and killed four men, including a leading Kurdish politician from Iran.
Erfurt, Germany, April 26, 2002: A former student killed 17, one non-fatal injury at a secondary school.
Freising, Germany, Feb. 19, 2002: Four people are dead
Sittensen, Germany, February 4, 2007: Six people killed
For Switzerland
Zug, Switzerland, Sept. 27, 2001: A man whose lawsuits had been denied murdered 14 members of a cantonal parliament.
For Italy
Rome, Italy, December 17, 1973: 33 killed and 20+ injured.  Black September Terrorists attacked airport and airplane.
Rome, Italy, December 27, 1985: 16 killed and 99 injured.  Abu Nidal Organization attacked the ticket counter for Israel’s El Al Airlines.
For Belgium
Aalst, Belgium, November 9, 1985: 8 Killed, 7 wounded.  “A particularly psychopathic group of criminals without any ulterior motive.”  Main emphasis was on killing people though they would also commit “petty crimes.”  In this crime, these killers were described as shooting “at anything that moved.”
For Spain
Madrid, Spain, January 24, 1977: 5 killed and 4 wounded.  Members of the Spanish Communist Party, labor lawyers, were killed by far right wing activists.
Zarautz, Spain, November 3, 1980: 5 killed and 5 wounded.  Base separatists killed traffic department workers who were drinking at a bar in the town.  Arguably shouldn’t be included because it may be involving struggles over sovereignty.
For Russia
Tatarstan, hunting camp, April 26, 1992: 9 killed and 1 wounded.  The 1992 Tatarstan shooting was a mass murder. On 26 April 1992, 23-year-old Andrey Shpagonov, former huntsman went to a hunting camp. He went to steal firearms.
Yaroslavsky, Primorsky Krai, August 25, 2002: 5 killed and 10 wounded.  The Yaroslavsky shooting was a mass murder that occurred in Yaroslavsky, Primorsky Krai, Russia on August 25, 2002, when 40-year-old police captain Sergey Semidovskiy (Russian: Сергей Семидовский) killed five people and wounded ten others in and outside a bar with a Saiga carbine, after an argument with several customers.
For Bosnia
Lipnaca, Bosnia-Herzegovina, May 29, 2008: six killed and one wounded
For Serbia
Jabukovac, Serbia, July 27, 2007: Nine killed and three wounded
For India
Mumbai, India, November 26th to 29th, 2008: Islamic terror group based in Pakistan named Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Pure) killed164 and wounded 308.
Jammu, India, July 22, 2002: Islamic militants killed 27 Hindus and injured at least 30 others, some critically

Gujarat, India, September 24 and 25 2002: To terrorists attacked the Akshardham temple complex and killed 31 people and wounded 80 others by using automatic weapons and hand grenades

Punjab, India, July 23, 2015: Islamic terrorists killed 7 people and wounded at least 15 others. Other Indian cases may be found here.
For Nigeria

Osun State, Nigeria, Saturday, July 10, 1999: The Black Axe Confraternity attacked students at the Obafemi Awolowo University and killing five people and injuring of eleven.

Mamudo, Yobe State, Nigeria, July 6, 2013: Islamic group Boko Haram killed 42 children and teachers at a boarding school.

Gujba, Yobe State, Nigeria, September 29, 2013: gunmen from the Islamic group Boko Haram entered the male dormitory in the College of Agriculture and killed “as many as 50 dead.”  Most of the dead were Muslim college students.

Borno massacre, in Konduga, Borno State, on February 14, 2014: Boko Haram Islamic militants killed at least 121 Christian villagers.

Izghe, Borno State, February 15, 2014: Islamic group Boko Haram killed 105 men and 1 elderly woman

Yobe State, Nigeria, February 25, 2014: 59 boys were killed at the Federal Government College of Buni Yadi.  The boys were separated from the girls and the young girls were told to get married at a very early age.

Gamboru and Ngala in Borno State, Nigeria, May 5 and 6, 2014: Boko Haram Islamic militants killed more than 300 residents.

Borno massacre, in Konduga, Borno State, on May 7, 2014: Boko Haram Islamic militants killed at least 200 Christian villagers. Several others were injured.

For Philippines

Manila, Philippines, December 20, 2013: Philippines mayor and 3 others killed in shooting at Manila airport.  “[D]ead include Ukol Talumpa, the mayor of Labangan, a town in the southern Philippines, and his wife and 28-year-old niece, said Supt. Jose Erwin Villacorte, director of the Manila region’s Southern Police District.

Kawit, Cavite, Philippines, January 4, 2013: Ronald Baquiran Bae shot to death 8 people and wounded 12 others.  “On Jan. 4, a failed local candidate opened fire on his village neighbors, killing 8 people — including a pregnant woman and child — and wounding 10.

Ipil, Philippines, April 3, 1995: The Islamic Command Council fired on residents and took hostages.  53 civilians killed.  Not clear that this should be classified with the other cases because much of the attack involved robbing of eight banks.

Maguindanao, Mindanao, Philippines, November 23, 2009: Andal Ampatuan, Jr. and his clan (a “leading Muslim political clan“) attacked Esmael Mangudadatu’s family members and supporters, and accompanying journalists.  57 killed (34 were journalists) and at least 4 wounded.  The victims were on their way to file a certificate of candidacy for Esmael Mangudadatu, vice mayor of Buluan town, they were kidnapped and killed.

Digos, Davao Del Sur, Philippines, June 25, 1989: 39 people, many of them children, were mercilessly gunned-down by the communist New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) rebels while they were attending a Sunday mass. This appears to be a battle over sovereignty.

For Azerbaijan

Baku, Azerbaijan, April 30, 2009: Farda Gadirov shot to death 12 people (students and staff) at the Azerbaijan State Oil Academy

For Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, April 7, 2011: Wellington Menezes de Oliveira shot to death 12 children between the ages of 12 and 14 at the Tasso da Silveira Municipal School

Information for Israel and Pakistan.
Data for other countries around the world are available here, here, and here.
See also here and here.
UPDATE: Politifact references an email that John Lott sent them about their claim that Obama’s claims on mass public shootings were “mostly false.”  Their discussion is available here.

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195 Responses

  1. Bartosh Rudnicki says:

    Shouldn’t Norwey be excluded from the list? I guess they’ve had only one mass shooting so far. It distorts the data to make the country look worse than it really is.

    • johnrlott says:

      Dear Bartosh:
      A lot of US states have only had one shooting, for example, see the Newtown shooting in Connecticut. Should the Newtown shooting be removed? Many US states haven’t had any attacks. The point here is that there are lots of Europe experiences all sorts of attacks, but people treat each country’s attack as an aberration since they don’t have a large number in any one country.

      • Chad says:

        Norway is a country yet you compare it to a state of the US. Should you not compare country to country?

        • johnrlott says:

          All the Tables compare countries to countries.

        • BP says:

          Is norway closer in size and population to the US or to one of its states? It seems reasonable to compare them in various ways.

          • Andy says:

            when you count a rate based on per x population, size of the compared countries does not really matter.

            But, yeah the Breivik terror attack massively skew the data.

            Breivik alone killed 77 ppl in a country with about 5m citizens, to scale it to the US, it’d mean he’d have to have killed 4,799 people to compare the scale.

          • Jeremy McQueary says:

            The population of Norway is 5 million and some change, the US is 319 million. Not the best country to use as a comparison. And Macedonia has an even smaller population.

          • ARMEDPATRIOTS says:

            yeah…lets skew the results and omit data just to keep from accepting the reality that Norway ISNT as safe as you want to say it is

        • George says:

          We have far more people in the USA than Norway.

          • aric forse says:

            Thats why they use rates, its a percentage of people, not total people. For example 5 in 100000 commit murder is us while 25 in 100000 do in mexico

        • Arleene says:

          A lot of these European countries are smaller than a lot of our states. That may very well be why the author chose to list Norway as they did.

          • Steven says:

            A lot of European countries are smaller than the states in the US? That doesn’t seem like a valid argument to me. How’s that? E.G. The Sahara is bigger than some US states, yet no mass murders over there. See my point?

            The only way to compare ‘how bad’ things are is to consider population. Population density should surely be considered too.

          • Pedro says:

            STEVEN?? Are you serious? He is talking about population. That is what this study is about!

        • N Waff says:

          Connecticut has a population of 3.6 million and the population of Norway is 5 million – seems like a reasonable comparison. There is no comparing Norways 5 million to the United States 320 million.

          • Austin says:

            There is, it’s called statistics N waff

          • Jay White says:

            The numbers were compiled in per millions of people, ie the numbers were crunched down to basic form to take away the difference in populations. the 2.044 number for Norway, .044 of a person got shot? No. learn how actual math and statistics work.

        • Gretchen says:

          Norway has a population of about 5 million, CA has 38 million, 22 states have more than 5 million citizens. Comparing Norway to a state is actually generous.

          • matty says:

            Holy Crap. 50% of one population does something and 40% of another population does the same thing. IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT THEIR POPULATIONS ARE!!!
            Go back to middle school and have a teacher explain that to you if you can’t comprehend that.

        • Tony says:

          U.S. states are countries. Each one is independent from the other. The United States is an independent nation only as it relates to non-American states. Domestically, each state is sovereign in its affairs, which includes gun laws.

      • James Herriot says:

        Sandy Hook was proved to be false – no shooting occurred.

        • Melissa B says:

          It was proven to be false? Can you back that up with some credible sources? I have heard of and read some conspiracy theories but there was nothing that had my jaw drop in regard to this shocking revelation you are referring to.

          *Law abiding citizens do not commit intentional homicides, nor do the guns in their possession*

          • johnrlott says:

            Are you referring to President Obama’s claim being proven false? If so, each of the mass shootings in Europe are listed for you. You can do a news search to verify whether those are real cases. Is there something else that you are looking for? Please let us know. Thanks.

            James Herriot, the notion that Sandy Hook is a made up attack is repulsive, counter productive, and bizarre.

        • Zipper 666 says:

          Anyone who promotes this disgusting and baseless story is adding more suffering to the families of those children. Stop repeating halfassed conspiracy nonsense. If you REALLY believe it go to Sandy Hook and confront some of the parents (make sure your life insurance is paid up).

    • RRDRRD says:

      You are ignoring the fact that Norway has fewer people than 9 USA metropolitan areas. Mass shootings like this are extremely rare and setting aside any of them would be a statistical travesty.

      • johnrlott says:

        Why should Norway be ignored? Obama claimed: “this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.” Norway, with the worst mass public shooting, surely is something that has to be noted. Do you disagree that it is relevant for Obama’s claim? With just over five million people, Norway isn’t a large country, but I explicitly talk about the small population and I have adjusted for differences in population. In any case, if you remove Norway from the list, the US is still ranked 7th. I have also only included Europe. Obama’s claim gets even less believable if you include a lot of countries outside of Europe. In addition, I only included a limited type of mass public shooting when evaluating Obama’s claim about “mass violence.” As noted in the New York Daily News piece, there are many types of mass public shootings that I didn’t occur. I also didn’t include other types of mass violence, such as bombings.

        • PaulBrevik says:

          True. Norway’s attack was the worst such shooting in history, and yet Norway, in many respects, is a model of proposed gun laws. It does have a very high ownership rate, but the laws are stricter than in the US.

          The shooter did not use an ‘assault weapon’. In fact, his rifle would have been on Diane Feinstein’s ‘sporting use exemption’ list for the assault weapons ban. Would that law have stopped the shooting? Of course not.

          And just to respond to Piers Morgan’s comments a while ago, he said how the UK suffered a mass shooting, banned guns, and has not seen one since. Well, I posit that Norway had an even worse mass shooting, did NOT change its gun laws, and has ALSO not had one since.

          Thank you for your work, Dr. Lott, you are a marvel of intelligence!

        • QueueBandée says:

          Wow, I haven’t laughed that hard in a very hard time. Your simplistic analysis tells us absolutely nothing. Might as well normalize the data by the number of wild bears in each country.

          • kt says:

            I would postulate that the US also has more bears and more bear attacks, so clearly we also have a bear problem that the liberal media is ignoring.

        • Kevin says:

          It would be nice to see a comparison of all the mentioned European countries combined put up against the U.S. as a whole. This would take away the skew of small countries and account for higher population countries with a smaller frequency than the U.S. i.e. Germany, France, England, Italy. It would be a fair comparison to account for large outliers like Norway the same as outlying states in the U.S. that have no occurrences.

          • Typically statistical data is referenced as number of incidences per capita…in other words, the number of incidences per 100,000 people.

            When doing a statistical analysis using a per capita basis, you eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, any skewing which may occur because a given country has a much lower population than another country in the same comparison.

            A couple of years ago, there was a comparison study done between the US and Great Britain in regards to violent crime. This study showed that in 2010 the US had approximately 450 violent crimes per 100,000 people and, during the same year, Great Britain experienced approximately 2050 violent crimes per 100,000 people.

            By using the same number, you establish a common denominator which is completely independent from the total population of a country. This allows one to compare apples to apples.

          • RS says:

            The data is there, really, if you look at the tables and look up population statistics.

            The population of Europe (the continent, not just the E.U.) is rougly 2,3 times the size of the U. S. population. The total number of shootings from Jan 2009 to Dec 2015 was 25 in Europe (343 fatalities) and 25 in the US (199 fatalities).

      • Pooter says:

        I’m not sure why you would make a one to one comparison between Norway and the US in the first place. A better comparison would be to take the European Union as a whole.

        • johnrlott says:

          The point of the comparison was because of Obama’s statement comparing countries.

          • Revolt says:

            The homicide rate graph tells the story. Yes since Norway has a small population it makes it skewed as well as if you survive the shooting it does not count on the first grqph. Yet we choose to ignore the homicide rate which we far out score norway. Cherry picking data aren’t we.

        • jpgnt says:

          Norway is not part of the EU though

        • Teemo says:

          It’s not a 1 to 1 comparison. As you can see the data is per 100,000 people. the percentage is used to reduce skew based on population. Your argument is invalid.

          • johnrlott says:

            Dear Teemo:
            I am not sure that I understand your point. Are you saying that you want to compare a country with 4 million people in terms of the number of attacks to another country with 320 million? Don’t you expect that the number will be lower simply because of the larger population? How else would you make the two countries comparable?

    • Brianna says:

      I’m sure the Brevik shooting alters the stats on number of people killed, since he managed to kill quite a few people. But Norway also outranks the US in frequency of attacks, and that would not be altered by the number of people killed by Brevik. Also, the fact that Norway suffered an unusually bad attack doesn’t change the fact that other countries on that list also outrank the US.

      • Jeremy McQueary says:

        I think, like was stated earlier, population density can play a big part as well. Norway has a much smaller population for sure, but the population density is over twice that of the United States per square mile, and it’s about the size of California, slightly smaller. Bad country to use as a comparison due to vast difference in population structure.

    • PAUL says:

      Please do not exclude any data. Include it all in full transparency for our own analysis. Thanks!

    • Debora Bartlett-Lakey Bartlett-lakey says:

      These statistics are a bit stilted. Anything to try to make the USA look like there are not serious issues with the love of guns and ignoring the number of mass shootings. And to say it is better to do nothing at all is very irresponsible. I can only see our society in grave times.

      • Bill Richardson says:

        Your statement is a bit stilted… Anything to justify the banning of guns because of insane people who are glorified/magnified by the press to make the situation look as bad as possible. To say that we must do something without specifying a remedy that would actually prevent attacks by the insane is very irresponsible.

      • yeah right says:

        I disagree. You claim they’re stilted only because you want them to be stilted. It’s obvious you don’t support gun ownership just by reading the little bit you posted. Look at the data for what it is and not for what you want it to be and you might be able to better trust it. These stats are far better than relying on the POTUS’s address claiming the US had the worst gun homicide rate without providing background facts. These stats provide background information. It’s better to do nothing at all if you’ve no hard facts to make a decision on, IMO, especially when it applies to our inborn rights (such as the 2nd amendment).

        These stats are about as transparent as you’ll get…you certainly won’t see such transparency from the US government.

      • Patrick says:

        Please elaborate on your claims that the data is “stilted”.

      • Gretchen says:

        How specifically are they misleading. Just because they don’t confirm your assumptions?

      • Tj says:

        Why don’t we compare drive by shootings with mass shootings? You liberals want to prove how evil the big bad gun owner is, while maintaining it is the evil white Christian republican doing the shooting. Lets be fair in that? No? Figures…

      • Tj says:

        And for the record, we are in grave times. People are currently buying guns for protection left and right, including liberals. We of course can’t use them for protection without the left labeling us evil racist murderous gun nuts.

    • Eric says:

      I absolutely agree. There was one really major shooting in Norway in 2011 where 77 people were killed. Combine that with a national population of around 5 million people, and look at my graphy! The evil socialist nations of Scandanavia have more mass shooting than we do in the United States!

    • Aad says:

      Norway should not be excluded but they should compare Europe with the USA, not small individual countries, this is just distorting reality with clever use of statistics. Their stats shows 7 small countries in Europe above the USA but there are over 50 countries in Europe, so that’s some nice cherry picking they do.
      The second graph, they do the same, I doubt anyone would call countries like Brazil, Russia, China and Mexico “developed” in the sense the USA , Germany and Sweden are. From all the western countries the USA has by far the highest homicide rate.

    • Neil Bob says:

      That’s why it’s per capita. Per Capita makes sure you compare apples to apples. If you have something that happens 1 per 1 million people, then you can expect in a state or country of 1 million people, it’ll likely happen 1 time. if you have a state or country of 1 billion people, you’d expect it to happen 1000s. if you have 350 million people it would happen 350 times.

      So to exclude a small nation just because they only have 1 incident is wrong or at least in accurate. Now there is something to be said for removing outliers. Usually the biggest and smallest could be legitimately removed to prevent the average from being skewed too far. However, that’s also why you calculate the median. You can also figure out the standard deviation for the event, and calculate the z-score from that to see if you are truly outside of the norm or if you are within one standard deviation from everyone else.

      • Alpheus says:

        When it comes to outliers, however, it would behoove us that we shouldn’t exclude them without good reasons. Outliers deserve special notice: we get to see what makes them different, if anything, and how the data would act, if they are excluded.

        We would do well to remember that sometimes outliers can be the most important data points of them all!

    • rmichelj says:

      What the real difficulty in making these comparisons is the fact that many of the European countries have a monolithic culture, and don’t have to deal with the same ethnic tensions present in the U.S. That will be changing with their crazy immigration policies though.
      Regardless, the obvious problem in the U.S. is the near impossibility of forced institution of people who are obviously dangerous. The laws were changed due to abuses, however the legal system went too far the other way. It is not a gun problem, it is a mental health problem.

  2. Kevin says:

    Why did we start at 2009. Just curious?

    • johnrlott says:

      There were two reasons. 1) As you probably know, last year we did a report on Mass Public Shootings in the US since 2009. It was just handy to use that report and update that data for a comparison. 2) We spent the end of last week and the weekend putting the data together for Europe, and it was simply a question of time available to put the Europe data together. 2009 seemed like a doable length of time and it matched last year’s report.

    • Andrew says:

      So Norway’s one mass killing is convieniently included…

      • Brian Casteel says:

        Norway was conveniently included, because it actually happened. Maybe the victims are sorry it happened within the timeframe of this report data gathering period?

      • Alpheus says:

        Of course, I would think that the natural tendency would be to expand the time frame rather than contract it…thus, the natural tendency would properly include Norway’s one mass shooting anyway.

  3. Chris says:

    Do you have the numbers for a wider time frame? Most gun control advocates like to go back a couple decades, so I have a feeling that they’re going to use that to criticize this data if they see it.

  4. […] After adjusting for America’s much larger population, we see that many European countries actually have higher rates of death in mass public shootings. […]

  5. […] After adjusting for America’s much larger population, we see that many European countries actually have higher rates of death in mass public shootings. […]

  6. B.R. Burch says:

    Last chart “Homicide Ratges…” I don’t see figures for Great Britian / England. Why?

  7. K Early says:

    All gun control advocates please feel free to turn in your guns.

  8. […] After adjusting for America’s much larger population, we see that many European countries actually have higher rates of death in mass public shootings. […]

  9. […] After adjusting for America’s much larger population, we see that many European countries actually have higher rates of death in mass public shootings. […]

  10. Randy Arabie says:

    Where might I find the details of the methodology used to develop the data presented in the first table (Death Rate from Mass Public Shootings 2009 to last week)?

    • johnrlott says:

      Could you please explain what additional information that you need?

      • Randy Arabie says:

        What are the sources of the data. Was the study/analysis limited to the countries listed in the table? Were mass shooting death rates calculated annually based on population estimates for the same year, or were the deaths summed over the study period then the mass shooting death rates calculated for the most recent population estimate for the given country?

  11. Tim says:

    More lies from the American Government. Wake me when they are telling the truth how about.

  12. […] After adjusting for America’s much larger population, we see that many European countries actually have higher rates of death in mass public shootings. […]

  13. Cheesemaster says:

    “We should support not giving guns to people who are mentally ill and felons.”

    Say what? Where’s my free gun?

  14. […] Comparing Death Rates from Mass Public Shootings and Mass Public Violence in the US and Europe […]

  15. We also need to keep in mind that a large number of our states are bigger than an entire country in Europe, both in acreage and population. So to compare the entire USA to one country in Europe is giving a kind of lopsided view.

    • Jake Brown says:

      Not necessarily. Each country has their own, separate gun laws. The effectiveness or ineffectiveness of our gun laws are in question here. Each country should be listed separately, and adjusted to the size of the common denominator, the largest country to make it a fair comparison. I’m surprised so many peolpe cannot see this.

      • Europe says:

        To put US in perspective, one has to compare with an approximate similar sized “country”. Of course, normalising the total numbers to obtain rates a step in the one direction. But the variation of the obtained numbers is much higher, due to the small sample size. So it’s only natural that a small country like finland tops easily. To make a valid comparison with european countries, one could e.g. take the whole EU, or compare the rates of US states with developed countries. Basic statistics, the error margin scales with 1/sqrt(#samplings).

  16. Koala says:

    I am unsure why some Americans cannot accept that America is a country and instead keep trying to take this comparison down to the state level in their country when states are not mentioned in the various graphs.

    I am also unsure why the authors attempted to utilise some sort of multiplication effect to bring the levels of some foreign countries up to or exceeding the American level of number of deaths. It seems rather pointless to me.

    I am also unsure why the authors include Terrorist attacks which are clearly about sovereignty between sectarian groups and the central government of nations as examples of mass murder. The Terrorists clearly dispute whom is in control of their and others’ lives.

    However, despite these quibbles, it makes interesting if distorted reading.

    • johnrlott says:

      Dear Kola:
      I am puzzled by your question. Could you please point to one place in the post above where the issue of states is mentioned or even central to the discussion? The point was that you can’t compare a country with 320 million people to a country with 5 million or even 80 million without taking into account the differences in population size. Do you disagree that countries need to be adjusted for size?

  17. Roberta X says:

    Editing issue?
    “— None of the laws that Obama has put forward would have had any impact on either Newtown or Charleston. The Charleston killer apparently did pass a background check, and, in any case, he obtained his gun by stealing it from his Mom.”

    The second half of the second sentence was probably intended to refer to the killer in Newtown but appears instead to be about the killer in Charleston. Might want to fix that.

    • johnrlott says:

      It is correct. In both the Newtown and Charleston cases, the gun was taken from the mother. The point for the Newtown case was already well known. In the Charleston case, the mother was unharmed in the theft of the gun.

  18. […] there’s our ever fabricating president who claims that mass murders only happen here. The facts say otherwise, but socialists have no use for […]

  19. […] a couple more.  This first one looks at how terrorists choose their targets.  The second is about Comparing Death Rates from Mass Public Shootings and Mass Public Violence in the US and Europe.  Both are worthwhile […]

  20. […] presidency occurred in Europe, not in the US. Nor did he explain why many European countries have ahigher frequency of attacks and a higher death rate from mass public […]

  21. […] presidency occurred in Europe, not in the US. Nor did he explain why many European countries have ahigher frequency of attacks and a higher death rate from mass public […]

  22. […] Of course, across a narrow river with lots of bridges here in the free Commonwealth of Virginia, our crime rate continues to drop as the number of concealed carry permits and privately-owned firearms increases. Imagine that. More guns, less crime. […]

  23. […] shootings occur in many countries, though they remain statistically rare here and abroad. (Also see here and […]

  24. […] Thor is online now   Quote Quick Reply post #4526 of 4526 (permalink) Old Today, 03:48 PM Thor Member     Join Date: Oct 2011 Posts: 6,516 Re: America has a problem with gun insanity From June 2015 Comparing Death Rates from Mass Public Shootings and Mass Public Violence in the US and Europe – Cri… […]

  25. Pooter says:

    John, I’m not sure why we would make a one to one comparison between Norway and the US in the first place. A better comparison would be to take the European Union as a whole. We are both a union of states, are we not?

  26. […] so much falsification in their political grandstanding… Here are some John Lott numbers: Comparing Death Rates from Mass Public Shootings and Mass Public Violence in the US and Europe – Cri… Cheers! Marc ut facile, Usurpate tamen! NRA Certified Instructor: Pistol; Personal […]

  27. Kevin Moritz says:

    Just heard you on Mark Levin’s radio show yesterday and was wondering where I could get this information. Then I saw this in my Facebook feed, just now. Good stuff! I’m no gun expert, but I was a very good copy editor for Guns & Ammo magazine (also HANDGUNS, RifleShooter, and HUNTING) from 1989 to 1998 and have heard much of the pro-gun arguments (as well as many of the ridiculous anti-gun arguments). The problem with anti-gunners’ reasoning is that we can’t “compromise” with them and “try it their way” for a set time, then switch back if it doesn’t work. First, “switching back” is generally impossible. Second, their reasoning is not only faulty, it’s dangerous. If someone asked me to jump off a cliff “just once” to see if I liked it–and if not, I could quit–I would refuse to compromise on that also.

  28. Roger Xavier says:

    ” “we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.”

    Aren’t you moving the goal posts when the statement is “mass violence” and the rebuttal focuses on Mass ‘Killings’ involving firearms as defined by the FBI?

    4 or more deaths in public places excludes quite a few fellow citizens who were the recipients of firearm violence and/or were gunned down in private places. Is the shooting of large numbers of fellow residents to be excluded from “mass violence” due to an arbitrary choice of criteria?

    From “Mass Murder in the United States: A History,” by Grant Duwe, director of research at the Minnesota Department of Corrections,
    “Since 1900, the highest mass murder rate was in 1929. Mass public shootings are one of several types of mass murder and generally account for roughly 10-15 percent of all mass killings in the U.S.,” Duwe said.”
    Addressing only deaths and not all victims of firearm violence ‘Mass Public’ shootings leave out 85% to 90% of all mass killings in the United States. Many of those non public deaths may not have been by firearms. Of those that were are the private victims any less dead?

    If the premise is Mass Shootings, ie. involving four or more firearm casualties period, then there have been at least 295 (if the 10/2/2015 incident in Ocala, Fl is included) incidents this year alone.

    If the time frame of mass shootings world wide was expanded to include modern history a better point in time would be the beginning of the 20th Century or even the the Charles Whitman Texas Tower shootings from 1966. Choosing a time frame based on an author’s convenience does us all a disservice.

    If the 37 economies classified as “advanced economies” as by the IMF (http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2015/01/pdf/text.pdf)
    is applied or is based on the 49 countries in the top quartile of the Human Development Index (HDI) or on the 32 members in the High-income OECD category, as determined by the World Bank (http://data.worldbank.org/about/country-and-lending groups#OECD_members) then the countries of Mexico and Brazil included in the rebuttal would be excluded.

    Perhaps there should be less dependency on personal interpretations of meanings of statements and more effort put toward mutually acceptable criteria ?

    • johnrlott says:

      No moving of goal posts. You have to have a consistent definition and we had already put the US data together using the FBI definition. If you can show that it alters the results to pick a different definition, I would appreciate it. As to the OECD, they are the organization of economic development, and they put together the list of developed countries. Under questioning, the WH said the president was referring to developed countries.

  29. Lyn says:

    A friend has told me that your numbers are tweaked and do not show what is truly happening. How would you answer this?

    • johnrlott says:

      Well, Lyn, the cases are listed. If you see an error, please let me know. Thanks.

      • QB says:

        “Some people have defended President Obama’s statement by pointing to the word “frequency.” But, even if one puts it in terms of frequency, the president’s statement is still false, with the US ranking 9th compared to European countries.”

        Of course he’s right and you’re wrong. You are trying to make an argument using a rate (which in this context is meaningless anyway). Even in the title of the second table, without knowing it, you are referring to a rate: ‘Events/Unit of time’ / ‘Count’ or ‘frequency’ / ‘count’. In other words, you are comparing the ratio between two different units, as discussed below. Where does Obama discuss rates in his statement? Please be specific.

        Here are some important definitions that can help you for your future analyses:

        Frequency: the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit time; the number of times a value recurs in a unit change of the independent variable of a given function.

        Rate: a ratio that compares two quantities having different units of measure; is a comparison of two different quantities when they are combined together.

        Even using your data (that are missing a very large number of mass shootings and mass murders), please reproduce the second table for the actual frequency of mass shootings for each country on list. Then, we can see if Obama was wrong to claim that the number of events (mass shootings) per unit of time is higher than any other developed countries.

      • Josh Kozak says:

        Could you post a breakdown, as you did above for European incidences, of the shootings that you have used to find your USA numbers please? (Date/ Location/ Fatalities/ Non-Fatal Injuries)
        This could help add some perspective as you did said above, some numbers were omitted.

  30. Doc says:

    Here’s something I’m not sure why no one has picked up on yet. Australia post 1996. Mass killings still happen. The only thing that’s changed is choice of weapon for th most part. Firearms are still used as well.

    Wiki, Austrailia mass killings

    Port Arthur massacre – In 1996, armed with two semi-automatic rifles, Martin Bryant killed 35 people around Port Arthur and wounded 21 before being caught by police the next day following an overnight siege.
    Childers Palace Fire – In June 2000, drifter and con-artist Robert Long started a fire at the Childers Palace backpackers hostel that killed 15 people.
    Sef Gonzales – On July 10, 2001, Sef Gonzales bludgeoned to death his sister, mother and father with a baseball bat.
    Monash University shooting – In October 2002, Huan Yun Xiang, a student, shot his classmates and teacher, killing two and injuring five.
    Churchill Fire – 10 confirmed deaths due to a deliberately lit fire. The fire was lit on 7 February 2009.[5]
    Lin family murders – On July 2009, Lian Bin “Robert” Xie killed his sister, her husband and three members of their family (5 persons from the Lin family) with a hammer. The faces of the victims were so disfigured that forensics had to be used to identify them. The motivation for the family massacre were partly because Lin had criticised Xie for not having a job.
    2011 Hectorville siege – A mass shooting that took place on Friday, April 29, 2011, in Hectorville, South Australia. It began after a 39-year-old male, Donato Anthony Corbo, went on a shooting rampage, killing three people and wounding a child and two police officers, before being arrested by Special Operations police after an eight-hour siege.[6]
    Quakers Hill Nursing Home Fire – 10 confirmed and as many as 21 people may have died as a result of a deliberately lit fire in a Quakers Hill nursing home. The fire was lit early on 18 November 2011.[7]
    Hunt family murders – Geoff Hunt killed his wife and three children before turning the gun on himself on September 9, 2014.[8]
    Cairns stabbings – A woman stabbed 8 children to death on Friday, 2014, December 19, 2014. 7 of them were her own.[9]

    • Matthew says:

      We don’t count family drama killings as mass violence or mass shooting events whether they use a gun or not. Nobody counts those though they would be counted under gun violence.

  31. Osvaldo Luiz Alves says:

    Here in Brazil, we went through a difficult time, you foreigners who want to come and meet, or come to the Olympic Games, not because the violence here is out of control, a corrupt government that only thinks about stealing, and still call themselves patria educator, we have no health, no education, we don’t have public transportation, so robbery, a Communist Party that controls and ended up with all

  32. David Smith says:

    This article only shows “mass shooting” and completely ignore the thousands of other people killed by gun violence as being irrelevant since they were not accommodating enough to die in a mass shooting event. Try re-writing the article to include these people and see how the numbers change.
    Lets just take a small number of gun violence victims and write a biased article to show some poorly thought out point.

  33. […] Comparing Death Rates from Mass Public Shootings and Mass Public Violence in the US and Europe […]

  34. Al says:

    the OECD chart actually proves Obamas claims.
    Take Russia and Brazil apart (not developed countries, anyway), and look at Europe.
    Earlier in this article you’ve stated that UK or German rates are at higher level than in US, but the OECD chart shows homicide rate is significantly lower than in the US.
    Within Europe Norways is high, but this also proves Obamas point, as in Norway access to the weapon is very easy.

    • Paul Gaertner says:

      Of course, most people consider both Russia and Brazil developed countries, and you don’t explain why you’ve simply discarded Mexico and Chile and look solely at Europe. For the UK/Germany issue, simply read the article with greater care. Note the difference between “homicide rate” and the rate of mass shootings with more than 15 victims.

      • johnrlott says:

        Europe was included for mass public shootings simple to make the task manageable. It took a while to find the cases for Europe. The homicide data for all countries is more readily available.

      • Matthew says:

        Why would you include Mexico in any objective analysis. They have a war going on in that country.

  35. Nickie Stevens says:

    It is too bad that provision has not been made to print this out.

  36. merri clifton says:

    A little off topic… but in line with thinking of ways to lessen shooting incidents. (I don’t believe it’s realistic to think that we will ever end ALL gun violence.) Because, as citizens of the United States, we are free to own firearms, I believe that everyone should be educated on gun safety. I believe that our school system would be an excellent place to carry this out. Everyone knows, intellectually, that guns kill. But ignorance is unacceptable. There’s more to understanding guns than how to load and shoot. As always, education is the key. Recognizing the true power behind a firearm is vitally important. Kids watch TV and play games that give an inaccurate depiction of what happens when a gun is shot. And there are so many people out there telling kids that hunting is wrong. Yet, hunting and target shooting are really the only proper uses for firearms. With all the mixed messages kids get, it’s not shocking that we have problems with gun violence. We need to start somewhere.

    • Paul Gaertner says:

      None of these mass public shooters killed multiple people because they lacked safety training. Eliminate so-called “gun free” zones, where mass shooters elect to do their deeds, and deny them the posthumous fame most of them are after.

      • Matthew says:

        Mass shooters don’t elect for gun free zones. It isn’t a strategy and it’s a base canard to suggest as much. Much like Dillinger famously said of bank robbers robbing banks because ‘that’s where the money is’, mass shooters hit schools and workplaces because that is where the people that offended them, wouldn’t date them, ‘harassed them’ are located. There is NO evidence to suggest otherwise.

        • Old Guy says:

          Actually there is some. The man who shot up the theater where they were showing Batman several years ago by passed other theaters that were closer to pick the one that he did which happened to be a gun free zone. The others were not. It is only one example But IIRC there have be others also. If a person wants specific revenge the venue is important if they are generalized then gun free zones seem to be the place of choice.

          • QB says:

            He selected the theater because he was familiar with the surroundings. Since he was in full body armor, he was prepared to be shot at or experience resistance.

  37. Chris says:

    Why developing countries like FYROM, Mexico, Serbia included? Surely a fully developed legal system is needed for inclusion. Also Russia attacks by Chechan separatists included? Why not include Syria and Iraq too?

    • Anon says:

      Syria’s murder rate for 2015 was toppled by Brazil and Honduras who is still reigns top with 103 deaths per capita 2014 report and average is 84 per capita. Funny how people will support a country for political gain, but ignore the rest who have a greater need!

  38. marybe says:

    109 death in mass shootings in Austria? (i have calculkated with 8 million, we are rather 7.5) – sounds high. How many fatalities need to be involved to call it mass shooting?

  39. Brewd says:

    This does make for interesting reading. Over the past half century gun ownership has become ever more derided. Quite why that is I’ve yet to understand but here in Brazil many parents are scandalized at the thought of a 10- or 11-year old learning to shoot at an acredited shooting club before admitting that they were taught someone in a field at the same age or younger.

  40. Andrew says:

    The US is way behind the big 4 European countries against which it should be best compared – for supposed advancement and also so that small countries with distorting one offs could be excluded. Being behind former Yugoslavian countries is absolutely nothing to be proud of either.

    Availability of guns = more likely to be mass killings. It’s stating the obvious. The means are there.

    Also you ignore the higher suicide rates that availability of guns allows – again, the means is there.

  41. valmor junior says:

    Brazil is a country with very strong laws about gun control. Its very hard to buy a legalized gun in Brazil and legally carry a gun is almost impossible, but outlaws doesn’t mind about it, and the victims are the ones who follow the laws… Mass public shootings hardly happens here, but every day 154 brazilians are killed, and we have a strong gun control. GUN CONTROL DEFINITELY DON’T WORK, IT JUST TAKE THE GUNS FROM THE GOOD GUYS, THE BAD GUYS DOESN’T MIND ABOUT LAWS.

  42. biffula says:

    The solution is quite simple. Pass a law banning the release of a mass shooter’s (or mass killer using any means) name to the public. They won’t have the notoriety they want and crave.

  43. TBayes says:

    Hi John,

    1) Can you publish the source data used to generate these averages?
    2) As a professional analyst, do you stand by this statement? If we scaled Norway to the size of the US, you believe they would have 16 times the number of attacks?

    “If they suffered attacks at a rate adjusted for their population, Norway, Israel and Australia would have had attacks that were respectively 16, 11, and 3 times greater than the US.”

  44. […] Here’s the thing about mass shootings. These events, sad to say, DO happen in other advanced countries: […]

  45. ejeff says:

    The President and his supporters are Neoprogs- Progressives love using a lie to advance their agenda, and believing the lie for the same reason. When it comes to neoprogs, you can fool all of them. all of the time. So, I appreciate the statistics and am not surprised by the data, but it will not change a neoprog’s mind. Facts mean nothing, they swallow the lie every time.

  46. Michael Ash says:

    Whats interesting is the big picture is being missed across the boards. The common denominator of mass shootings is simply one. In over 90% of all US mass shooting the shooter was on heavy psychiatric drugs. at the time of the shootings or in withdrawal from taking such drugs. mass murderers for the most part are not born. They are made by psychiatry. All antidepressant drugs bring violent murderous and suicidal thoughts because they are toxic to the brain Period. get rid of psychiatry and psychiatric poisonous drugs and you get rid of mass murderers. Even Adolph Hitler never mass murdered until his quack doctor/psych buried him alive in psychotropic drugs and compounds. Its an easy lesson. People on psychiatric drugs are very dangerous to the rest of the society. That’s what makes them dangerous. Should people on psychiatric drugs own guns? If they are so nuts they are on those drugs why should they own of have access to fire arms?

  47. vincent says:

    Hi, I am in a facebook discussion with a former colleague of mine from Texas. I myself are from the Netherlands. We both have strong opinions on the subject. Me, being a somewhat leftish European, am, not surprisingly, agreeing with the position of Obama. He, being from Texas…well you can do the math 😉
    What think is:
    – guncontroll does not offer 100% safety from mass shootings or homicides. We have had our episode too in NL, with the mass shooting in Alphen (listed in the report). And the person was a member of a shooting club, but also a borderline case. So the ‘system’ did not work here.
    – there is nothing against a responsible citizin owning a firearm, for e.g. sporting purposes. It is the person that uses the gun that is to blame, not the gun itself
    – the reason I am a supporter of the good regulation is the same reason I am for a strong, responsible government that looks after the common interest. If you believe in common sense, you cannot but believe in responsible government, at least, if you are in a democracy, because at the end of the day, we, by electing, put government in its place…one could say that you get the government you deserve in a democracy. That is why it so important to look beyond the ‘here and now’. But ultimatelly I rather have professionals handling guns (i.e. the police) then a friendly neighbour. Not because I do not trust my neighbour, but because the monopoly of violance should reside with law-enforcement. Because that is the closest we can get to an objective, valuefree institution. ANd yes, policemen are also common people, like you and me, but they are professionals and it is their main duty to serve and protect.
    Any other position on the role of the law in a democracy is cynical and says more about the person itself.
    My colleague made a comparision between guns and cars… that you cannot blame the car when a drunken person causes a serious accident. Very true, but there is also, esp. in the US strong enforcement of the traffic rules…. Why not do the same with guns ? And for that matter, cars are not intended to cause accidents, but to get you from a to b. Now for guns….that is a different matter. They have been designed and invented for warfare and not just for hunting, or at least not the automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons….

    • Bill says:

      Many hunters in the U.S. use semi-automatic guns to hunt.

      • Matthew says:

        Some use dynamite to fish…doesn’t make it right or necessary or worth allowing if it means AR-15’s for the broad public MOST of who do NOT hunt.

    • Stu H says:

      Wanted to point out a few things. Regarding that comparison between cars and guns, isn’t it interesting how one is designed mostly for killing (actually arguable but I’m giving your argument the benefit in this post) while the other is designed almost entirely for transportation, the rate of ownership in the U.S. is very similar between the two, yet the death rate is very similar too? In fact, one of these things is used for murder far, far more often than the other, as well as suicide, yet the total death rates are still similar. Why then would the people of our nation be so adamantly glued to their opinion against ownership of one but not the other? Please feel free to compare the statistics against every other nation and share your findings.

      Now regarding your opinion that you’d rather just have professionals handling guns, one of the main reasons for the existence of the 2nd amendment is the obvious realization that throughout history, professionals (one could say, those licensed by the people in charge) were the only ones allowed to be armed. You could say this was to keep people safe, but when you look at historical context, it was more often for the purpose of keeping those out of power, out of power. If you subscribe to the notion that it’s best for the common rabble to succumb to the wisdom of their political or perhaps social elite, well then all I can say is that you should enlighten yourself by studying history further.

      • Matthew says:

        A third of American households have a gun, many more than that have cars so right off the bat your arguments falls apart on rate of ownership. Why would anyone listen to you beyond that first critical mistake? The doomsday option made sense when your musket was as good as my musket. This is no longer the case. You have zero chance of successfully resisting a tyrannical U.S. government with your civilian legal weapons….zero chance.

        • Alpheus says:

          Zero chance, huh? I would propose that the Government has zero chance of actually banning and confiscating a significant number of the guns, so why bother with that?

          I’ve been listening to a podcast on revolutions, and one thing I’ve concluded (particularly after listening about the French Revolution) is that anything can happen when a government collapses, and I would much rather be armed and in a position to choose, one way or another, one of the competing sides or none of them, and have the freedom to shoot back at anyone who has come to kill me, even if I have zero chance of surviving the tyranny to come.

          Sure, I might not win. But then, who wants to live in a society where the government freely uses tanks, fighter jets, and bombs against its own citizens?

  48. Mike says:

    Yes, your numbers seem to be very close to actual events on this side of the Atlantic, so at first glance you seem to have a valid point. Given the more fragmented nature of the European `State´ (as in cultures, languages, media infrastructures etc etc’) incidents on our continent do not accumulate in the public eye, while the US occurrences seem to be amplified by the media frenzy accompanying these events.

    So I tend to agree with your point that we have similar levels of ´successful´ lunie´s, who have lost their way and have gone out with a bang or even several bangs.

    This is a very incomplete picture though, since the US has had their string of questionable police shootings, the regular criminal activities supported by guns, the crimes of passion, the accidental shootings and so forth. I´m quite certain my impression of the US reality is somewhat distorted since the media tends to report on the sick and ugly events, however I´m quite certain that if you were to compare numbers on total shootings with fatalities US vs EU you´d get a fairer, more insightful comparison of the effects of such high number of firearms present in the general population.

    One last comment on your approach, you´ve constructed a seemingly fair case which indicates your President wasn´t completely familiar with all the foreign wacko´s. So kudo´s on that aspect of your work. However, reducing these events to their statitistics seems to enable you to bypass the actual meaning of such an event, so many families which will never be complete again, others are scarred for life. Places which should be safe and allow for growth and development turned into places of violence and fear. Given how grotesk such an experience must be, please respect the experience of those who lived through it and recognize that each mass shooting is one too many.

  49. Ben Emery says:

    Figures don’t lie, but liars figure. It is obvious how this article was figured and written. There is one commonality in 100% of these mass shootings, they were done with guns. No matter what figures are carted out or what reasoning for the shooters motives, the fact of the matter is these violent crimes were committed with the same tool. A tool that if used correctly kills or destroys its target.

    Sometimes the basic things need to be pointed out.

    • By definition, mass shootings require guns. And mass killings using bombs all require bombs, and mass killings using knives all require knives. Same for hammers, baseball bats and even hands and feet.

      On your other attempt at a point, if displaying a gun in self defense stops the crime, does that not also constitute a correct use of a gun? It doesn’t even have to be fired, much less shoot or kill someone to work as intended in self defense.

      Sometimes the most obvious and basic facts escape notice if you’re only looking in one direction.

  50. Ray Brown says:

    Seems like I read that if you take the five largest cities with high gun violence (such as Chicago and DC that both have strong gun control laws), the US falls way down on the charts in comparison to other countries gun violence. Gun control laws do not work!

  51. Prone2xs says:

    The only chart and statistics that mean anything is the last chart – Homicide Rates for Developed Countries. The USA to be the fifth worse only behind Chile, Russia, Mexico, and Brazil. Not great company to be associated. Our overall homicide rate looks to be 3 to 5 times higher than most other countries including Japan, the United Kingdom, Austria, Italy, Germany, Spain, France, etc. Most of those countries look to have an overall homicide rate of less than 1 while ours is slightly over 5. Individual statistics be manipulated by adjusting what data is or is not included in the calculations. What constitutes a “mass public shooting?” Is it 2 people, 5 people, 10 people, etc. Overall statistics based on total homicides and total population numbers are harder to fudge. The last chart tells the story – the USA has a homicide problem.

  52. […] fatality rates from mass public shootings, where they rank the U.S. as the fourth highest country. [48] Note the difference between “homicide rate” and the rate of mass shootings with more […]

  53. […] Here are some of your comments about Umpqua and Lott’s responses to Newsmax TV show host Steve Malzberg on Oct. 2 and extensive research available on Mr. Lott’s website. […]

  54. CM says:

    I’m surprised nobody mentions how our immigration and border control policies within the European Union suck? Talking about guns, if you knew how easy it is to smuggle guns from let’s say Bulgaria to Norway… there are barely any controls, if not none in between all of these countries if you take trains and do it intelligently. It’s very likely that none of these guns were purchased, or even originated from Norway or similar countries…

    Availability of guns isn’t the issue within the European Union. The issues are related to the lack of security. There are no controls, no monitoring in between European countries. Maybe one border control check up will occur over dozens of thousands of cars coming through…

  55. […] Here are some of your comments about Umpqua and Lott’s responses to Newsmax TV show host Steve Malzberg on Oct. 2 and extensive research available on Mr. Lott’s website. […]

  56. […] is not the top Western nation for the number of people per capita killed in mass shootings. You’d be surprised which countries are higher up the […]

  57. […] guns. In Europe, there have been no exceptions. Every mass public shooting — and there have been plenty of mass shooting in Europe — has occurred in a gun-free zone. In addition, they have had three of the six worst K–12 […]

  58. […] is not the top Western nation for the number of people per capita killed in mass shootings. You’d be surprised which countries are higher up the […]

  59. […] guns. In Europe, there have been no exceptions. Every mass public shooting — and there have been plenty of mass shooting in Europe — has occurred in a gun-free zone. In addition, they have had three of the six worst K–12 […]

  60. […] guns. In Europe, there have been no exceptions. Every mass public shooting — and there have been plenty of mass shooting in Europe — has occurred in a gun-free zone. In addition, they have had three of the six worst K–12 […]

  61. […] Comparing Death Rates from Mass Public Shootings and Mass Public Violence in the US and Europe – http://crimeresearch.org/2015/06/comparing-death-rates-from-mass-public-shootings-in-the-us-and-euro… […]

  62. […] COMPARING DEATH RATES FROM MASS PUBLIC SHOOTINGS AND MASS PUBLIC VIOLENCE IN THE US AND EUROPE http://crimeresearch.org/2015/06/comparing-death-rates-from-mass-public-shootings-in-the-us-and-euro… Mr. Obama has made a bunch of statements about gun violence and how we need more laws in the USA to […]

  63. Coloregrano says:

    Interesting way to maliciously manipulate data. We take some small countries where 1 shooting occurred (like Norway) excluding of course small countries where no public shooting ever occurred. Since such countries have very small population, one case is enough to have a high frequency and so United States goes down in the ranking. Most readers won’t notice that all countries with a population comparable to the one of United States are much lower that US, confirming just what the article was supposed to deny…

    • QB says:

      This is why calculating rates in this context is meaningless. Our president was talking about frequency (events/time) and Lott decided to divide the frequency by the population to get a rate, which means that we are comparing apples with oranges.

    • Jeremy says:

      Coloregrano, I’m not sure if you read the article very thoroughly. The author was not manipulating data. Please allow me to quote the article:

      “Small countries such as Norway, Israel and Australia may have only one major attack each, one-fourth of what the U.S. has suffered, but the US population is vastly greater. If they suffered attacks at a rate adjusted for their population, Norway, Israel and Australia would have had attacks that were respectively 16, 11, and 3 times greater than the US.”

      Obviously with the U.S. having more people, one would expect the U.S. to have more total shootings than a much smaller country. That’s part of the point the author is making. He is providing the data on a per capita basis.

    • Adam says:

      That’s why it’s per-capita. What’s wrong with that?

      Why would he include small countries with no shootings when the entire point of the article is to refute Obama’s claim that no other modern western countries have this problem?

  64. Scott Sammons says:

    There are over 50 countries in Europe. Your top chart only includes 15 European countries. How does the US stack up against the other 35+ nations?

  65. GaryL says:

    It seems those prone to an emotional reaction to such events are the ones most easily manipulated by the corporate media who, after all, are in the business of “selling soap” and not necessarily providing objective coverage.

    On the other hand, those of us who tend to rather dispassionately review data see clearly the true “length and breadth” of the issue tend to dismiss the “knee jerk” reactions. Unfortunately there seems to be very little common ground between the two groups, and the former group tends to be the squeaky wheel.

  66. IC says:

    Exactly right. Realizing that Norway has approximately 5.1 million, they don’t appear to have even a single death from a mass shooting in 5 years. But that aside, the more ridiculous point is that the author quickly glides over the fact that he’s excluding deaths of certain “categories” and offers only 2 examples, gang fights, and robberies. But look closely at the numbers of the U.S. , multiplying the rate per million by 320 (population approx 320 million) to get the raw numbers, and you see that the U.S. somehow averages roughly 30 deaths from mass shootings per year. Huh? I realize they are subtracting the gang deaths (as they like to point out) but they are also subtracting a heck of a lot of other categories that they did not specify. This year there have been 462 people shot and killed in mass shootings. In other words, they seem to be excluding about 95% of the shooting deaths. That is a helluva lot more than just gang deaths and robberies. Total Bullshit article.

  67. Bill says:

    I’ve had it with people saying America is not the greatest nation on the face of God’s Earth. I mean, first Norway beats us in quality and outcome of their education system and now they’re beating us in terms of the number and frequency of mass shootings? That’s the last straw! Wake the hell up, America. Don’t let those damn Scandinavians beat us anymore; let’s all work together to get those numbers up and make America great again. ‘Murica!

  68. Jesse says:

    The problem with listing it this way is it skews the perception of Norway. Regardless of total population, a better statistic to look at would be number of shootings with 4+ deaths per year per country.

    A country with just one shooting over an extended period could be deemed as an outlier. Events may happen without and rhyme or reason. But events happen on a regular basis shows there is something systematically wrong.

    This article is trying to provide ammo for Republicans against the left. I’m for the people being armed and what not, but if you are going to provide numbers to back an argument, you need to use them reasonably and correctly. Not forcing a skew to prove your point.

    • Alpheus says:

      I don’t see why we shouldn’t consider population in that analysis. Or, for that matter, consider breaking up America into 65 Norway-population size chunks, and then count how many mass shootings per year happen in those chunks.

      If we were to do that, then I’m sure that the mass-shooting events in the United States that seem to occur on a regular basis will suddenly seem much more like Norway. (Well, depending on how you define mass shootings, the Chicago area will certainly *not* look like Norway…)

  69. Bret says:

    The overreaching issue is not “Mass Shootings” as they are rather insignificant compared to the number homicides caused by guns. The chart clearly shows the United States has the worst homicide problem compared to its peers except the ever slightly better Norway. Sorry, but counting Mexico, Brazil, Russia, and Chile are not acceptable for comparison. No offense, but these places are like banana republics, not truly first world. Mexico has a massive drug cartel problems for starters; Shocking and sad that the United States, so close to Mexico as it is. We should be looking at the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, etc. and try to be more on par with these countries. So chop Obama comments up however to the liking of your political rhetoric, but would have huge gun problem in the United States. There is a very strong correlation between states with the strictest gun laws and reduced gun homicide death on a per capita basis. This is an easily verifiable fact. If you one wants to argue against more/better gun control, please do NOT say that more guns in the hands of good citizens is safer. That argument truly doesn’t stand up to the facts. The much better and more respectable argument is that you feel it is your god-given right (I’m atheist, but you get the point) to have gun, and the government should interfere with that right. I disagree due to the amount of harm especially in terms of death it causes innocent people, but that the argument is valid. I personally believe all drugs should be legal (see Portugal success story) because the government should not be controlling what one does especially when there is little harm imposed on other people (I heard the screaming now). I also believe the NSA should not be allowed to spy on Americans without probably cause even though I’m doing nothing wrong. Once could argue that such as position could lead to another attack/shooting, which is more than fair to say because that is true. I would say that the act of the United States improperly spying on citizens tramples upon the very freedom that the United States intended to protect. So please, tell me the government has no right to put into effect restrictive gun control law, just don’t tell me it makes the United States safer. The evidence is overwhelming, and it does not.

    • Alpheus says:

      Should Mexico be included? I don’t see why not.

      I think a fair question to ask is this: do Mexico’s stringent gun laws make Mexico safer? If not, then why would we expect Mexico’s stringent gun laws to make the United States safer?

  70. Obama said that mass shootings don’t happen “in other places with this type of frequency.” He didn’t say “in other places with this type of frequency per capita.” Accordingly, in determining the frequency, the numerator is the number of mass shootings and the denominator is “other places” in which case, he is correct. Your eagerness to contradict Obama overrides your critical faculties as analysts.

  71. Cindy says:

    Let’s not pull a GW Bush and use old intelligence. How about a comparison that uses data no more than 3 years old.

  72. LetFreedomRing says:

    I have read through almost all of these comments and it amazes me that people can’t understand why you can’t compare a country with over 300 million people to a country with 5 million people without putting those comparisons into a formula that takes into account population differences between the 2. It’s no wonder that our rights are being systematically stripped from us one by one, we are most definitely an uneducated bunch…and that’s being kind. I guess this is the same reason our President can go on and on about how the unemployment rate has fallen without explaining that the unemployment rate is tied to a direct ratio of the worker participation rate (which has also drastically fallen) and nobody questions it (Formula is UR = # without a job/worker participation rate). If the numerator (number of persons without work) stays the same and the denominator (worker participation rate) decreases, you’re percentage is going to automatically be lower…without doing a thing. I applaud your efforts, Dr Lott, in using transparency and factual statistics to shed some truth onto this whole “mass violence” situation. It’s a shame that our schools haven’t educated the American people enough to understand them.

  73. Europe says:

    The number for Norway is the result of a single incident (Breivik, 2011). You will always find a smaller country at the top of such a list, as the variation of a smaller sample is automatically higher.

    One can debate if a murder of 4 people (as used for the statistics) consists of a mass shooting. As well as labeling a terrorist attack where guns where involved, that’s hardly a mass shooting, but more an act of war. Or would you count every gunfight involving US troops a mass shooting? Then US would surely top the list by a big margin!

    Also, the statement was about mass shootings. Of course, including gun murder, it looks much different. The US has a factor of 3-10 times the rate of comparable european developped countries. Including Brazil/Mexico/Russia as a comparison is a serious distortion, where e.g. lots of drug war related crimes are included.

  74. Adam says:

    Will you divide these victim and incidence numbers by number of privately held guns in circulation? My prediction is little correlation.

  75. Andrew says:

    According to those statistics, approximately 10.5 out of 5.14 million people in Norway die in mass shootings (4 or more deaths) per year. Macedonia: 0.78 out of 2.08 million people per year, Serbia: 2.01 out of 7.13 million people per year die in mass shootings. Slovakia: 1.08 5.42 million people per year. Finland: 0.77 out of 5.46 million people per year/ Belgium: 1.5 out of 11.23 million people per year. Czech Republic: 1.39 out of 10.51 million people per year. United States of America: 30.29 out of 318.86 million people per year. Consider all of that information, Norway statistically has an average of 2.5 mass shootings per year. Macedonia, Slovakia, and Finland have one mass shooting every four years, again as a statistical average. Serbia statistically has one every other year. Belgium and The Czech Republic statistically have a mass shooting every 3 years. The United States has an average of 7.5 mass shootings per year. These averages reflect what the table above presents and the study was from 2009 to 2015 according to the attached article. I’m sure you weren’t wondering, but it came up in the article and I thought it was interesting: Norway’s population is closest to Colorado (2014 US Census data), Macedonia’s population is closest to New Mexico, Serbia’s is closest to Washington; Finland and Slovakia’s populations are closest to that of Minnesota, Belgium’s population is closest to Ohio, and The Czech Republic’s population is closest to that of Georgia. My point is that data and statistics can be drastically skewed to make the numbers look presentable to people unwilling to give them more than a glance.

  76. Magnus says:

    I was just wondering how the European countries listed above were chosen? For example, where are Spain, Portugal, Poland, Ireland and all the other countries in Europe? How would the the ‘ranking’ of the U.S. be affected if you added all of them? Or compared the U.S. to Europe as a whole?

    I also agree with the idea suggested by someone above, that it makes more sense to show the statistics on a year by year basis for each country, making it clear whether any statistics might be outliers. I’m half Norwegian, and I’m pretty sure John Lott doesn’t really think Norway would have sixteen times more mass shooting deaths than the U.S. if it was the same size?

  77. James McGill says:

    Could you please explain your definition of a “Mass Public Shooting” and “Mass Public Violence”? I’m intrigued also as to where your data is from, as I can find little mention of a source.


    • johnrlott says:

      Thanks very much, James. The definition is provided in the third paragraph of the post. That same paragraph explains how we put the list together using a news search. The links also go into those points more.

  78. […] que em países com menos armas de fogo por habitante (os EUA estão na liderança nesse quesito), ocorrem mais mass shootings e é mais provável que você acabe morrendo em um deles nesses países do que em solo americano. […]

  79. James Roane says:

    Nice Article, but I see no reason to compare us to any other country. Our Society is completely different, our laws are different. Anyone looking at mass shootings, first needs to look at the rest of our death’s in the country.

    Suicides with guns ~50 to 51%. (estimates have been higher)
    Accidents with guns ~4%
    Police ~16%. (Yes, it’s estimated that high).
    Murders ~15%.
    Gang violence ~15 to 16%. (Often illegal guns).

    The Mass murders are only a fraction of the problem.
    So, why is Obama so intent on going after guns, when Mass Murders are only a small fraction of the problem. Especially when any law that is in place, or he could put in place could not have stopped Sandy Hook, or any other Mass shooting?
    That is the question, that I have.

    Could it be that George Soros, who put Obama in the Senate, and the President wants guns banned in the United States? Could it have something to do with the U.N. Small Arms treaty that every Democrat voted for last year?
    That would have basically outlawed most Ammo in the United States. Obama is going after guns for a reason, and it’s not what most believe.

  80. Eddie John says:

    Very smart to show frequency as -attacks per million population-, the basics of a mass shooting is a person with a weapon trying to kill other people. The US having 300+k population will always dilute any number of casualties in any shooting, and even well organized and/or skilled attacker(s) will not manage to kill more than a couple of dozen people so accounting in attacks per million population would missguide us to think the US is faring well. Going back to the basics, the subject of this analysis should be the attacker him/herself, regardless how many people is killed or even if none are killed. If I were the Sheriff of my wild west town I would be interested in knowing how many lunatics are out there with the will to go out and kill by the masses and I would keep a record of how many of those lunatics tried it every year, regardless of how many people they killed, that would be data for sub-sequent analysis but I think the gun lobbiers (aka, the “Crime Prevention Research Center”), in their rush to defend their god-given right to own guns, over-rationalize all this things and convince themselves that things are fine.

    The problem is Americans are more focused on wining the argument rather than solving the problem.

    • QB says:


      “Very smart to show frequency as -attacks per million population-, the basics of a mass shooting is a person with a weapon trying to kill other people. ”

      is considered a rate and not frequency (events/unit of time). I agree that arguing on the number of victims per event provides very little useful information, especially when comparing countries.

  81. […] first statistic neglects that most of those deaths are suicides, and the second claim isn’t true either. I only bring those statistics up because they’re the only ones I constantly hear in favor of gun […]

  82. […] first statistic neglects that most of those deaths are suicides, and the second claim isn’t true either. I only bring those statistics up because they’re the only ones I constantly hear in favor of gun […]

  83. My Homepage says:

    … [Trackback]

    […] There you will find 80388 more Infos: crimeresearch.org/2015/06/comparing-death-rates-from-mass-public-shootings-in-the-us-and-europe/ […]

  84. carlo says:

    I think a more meaningful treatment would be the average of the median number of mass shootings per captita per annum for each territory. This would tend to iron out statistical aberrations. However, because of sampling it would probably make sense to amalgamate certain zones. For example breaking the US into (say) 6 segments, amalgamating the Scandinavian countries and so on.

    This would be a more reliable source of debate.
    And yes I have qualifications in both statistics and informatics.

  85. carlo says:

    Oops. I meant to split some territories and amalgamate others.
    The point Im trying to make is comparing the stats of a country of 300M like USA, Russia, Brazil, with small mostly agrarian nations like Norway isn’t helpful.
    I would suggest trying to segment the sample into things like:
    USA NE, NW, SE, SW, Central; about 55M each
    and so on.

    Sorry it’s early 😉

  86. […] when the other side couldn’t care less about how they use data at all.  Take, for example, the attempt by John Lott to debunk President Obama’s claim about the frequency of mass shootings in the […]

  87. […] UPDATED: Comparing Death Rates from Mass Public Shootings … – UPDATED: Comparing Death Rates from Mass Public Shootings and Mass Public Violence in the US and Europe. 23 Jun , 2015 […]

  88. Peter Shepherd says:

    With over 3000 firearm related deaths so far this year [gun violence archive 2016], I feel your biased but well put together argument is mute.

    • johnrlott says:

      Dear Peter:
      The point of this research was to point out that while the US makes up about 4.4% of the world population, we account for less than 4.5% of mass public shooting deaths in cases where 15 or more people are killed.

      This site is not particularly useful. There is a reason why we don’t rely on initial news reports for classifying shooting deaths as murders, homicides, accidents or suicides. Are gang fights the same as other types of shootings? Do you think that banning guns will keep drug gangs from getting guns and more than bans on illegal drugs keep gangs from getting those drugs?

      But here is the ultimate question: what is the solution that you are proposing? Banning guns? If so, you have to explain why each time that guns are banned, murder rates go up.

      • Peter Shepherd says:

        Living in the UK and having such strict gun ownership laws, which dramatically restrict unlawful persons from getting firearms I feel for the state the US is in. Arguably it has passed the tipping point where banning guns would not work. I do feel that strict background checks to inhibit the purchase of legally bought guns is a benefit though. Additionally the UK and Europe suffer far more terrorism related mass casualty incidents, it would be interesting to see the statistics relating to general crime, terrorism and gang related incidents.

        • Terry Collmann says:

          “Additionally the UK and Europe suffer far more terrorism related mass casualty incidents”

          Tell me in which country 2,500 people died on 9/11 again?

  89. […] Comparing Death Rates from Mass Public Shootings and Mass … – UPDATED: Comparing Death Rates from Mass Public Shootings and Mass Public Violence in the US and Europe. 23 Jun , 2015 […]

  90. […] The CPRC post challenging President Obama’s statements starts with a pertinent point about data analysis: “We prefer not to make purely cross-sectional comparisons. . . .” By that, Lott and his team mean that you can’t look at the U.S.’s gun crime rate and England’s comparatively lower gun crime rate and then announce “England’s gun ban explains the lower crime rate.” The lower crime rate is explained by the fact that England has always had a lower crime rate than the young, sprawling, diverse, frontier world of the United States. The useful analysis when it comes to gun crime is to see what happens in a given country when that country bans guns. (I’m not giving anything away when I say crime invariably soars.) […]

  91. […] “Comparing Death Rates from Mass Public Shootings and Mass Public Violence in U.S. and Europe&… […]

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