New CPRC Research: Mass Public Shootings are much higher in the rest of the world and increasing much more quickly

22 Nov , 2018  

Executive Summary

The U.S. is well below the world average in terms of the number of mass public shootings, and the global increase over time has been much bigger than for the United States.

Over the 18 years from 1998 to 2015, our list contains 2,354 attacks and at least 4,880 shooters outside the United States and 53 attacks and 57 shooters within our country. By our count, the US makes up less than 1.1% of the mass public shooters, 1.49% of their murders, and 2.20% of their attacks. All these are much less than the US’s 4.6% share of the world population. Attacks in the US are not only less frequent than other countries, they are also much less deadly on average.
Out of the 97 countries where we have identified mass public shootings occurring, the United States ranks 64th in the per capita frequency of these attacks and 65th in the murder rate.

Not only have these attacks been much more common outside the US, the US’s share of these attacks have declined over time. There has been a much bigger increase over time in the number and severity of mass shootings in the rest of the world compared to the US.


The paper is available to be downloaded here (please download it).

Appendices 1 and 2 for our research on mass public shootings around the world are available here.

Appendix 1 Foreign Cases (675 pages)

Appendix 2 US Cases (10 pages)

Excel file for International Mass Public Shootings Appendices

Excel file for International Mass Public Shootings Figures

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40 Responses

  1. Tom Maguire says:

    The chart of per capita deaths versus gun ownership merits a second version showing the US and first-world countries (eg, the OECD).
    Not to derogate the countries for which our President had a colorful description, but comparing the US to Afghanistan, Yemen and Columbia seems to take us out of our peer group.

    • johnrlott says:

      Thanks, Tom. If you read the paper, you will see that the paper notes that major European countries such as Norway, Finland, France, Switzerland, and Russia all have at least 25 percent higher per capita murder rates from mass public shootings than the US. There are other smaller European countries with higher rates. It should be pretty obvious just going through the list provided in Table 1 of the paper. The graphs that look at subcontinent data should also be pretty obvious. For example, you can compare Northern or Western Europe to the US.

      • Leigh Ferguson says:

        It’s pretty obvious that Americans pride themselves on not being the worst instead of being the best.

        The only countries that have more mass gun shootings are the countries that people are fleeing.

        This whole interactive demonstrates the amount of time people in the US will waste trying to justify their obsession with guns.

        • Dean Anniballi says:

          That’s not the case at all. We are simply tired of being fed the same BS statistics as a means of preempting our 2nd Amendment rights.

      • Sean says:

        Something smells like BS here. Norway, Finland, the Swiss and French have higher mass shooting rates than the US? I think there is some BS in this data or the way that is being analyzed.

        • johnrlott says:

          All the cases are provided in links at the bottom of the post. It is easy for you to check the accuracy. References to all the news sources are also provided.

          • Steve says:

            I can’t find where to begin a new response, my apologies for adding it here. Do you have the definition of “mass shooting” for this research somewhere? I’m not seeing it immediately.

          • johnrlott says:

            Steve, if you download the paper, it has an extensive discussion of mass public shootings.

        • Dean Anniballi says:

          No BS. The facts just run counter to the propaganda you’ve been fed, and apparently swallowed, without a skeptical questioning of the false information presented. Politicians lie pretty much all the time, and accepting their pronouncements without healthy skepticism is unwise.

  2. Jack Smith says:

    Have you published a similar international comparison which excludes mass shootings in gun-free zones?

  3. Jan says:

    The last chart (killed related to number of guns) would probably look different if countries without mass shootings were included as well.

  4. Vance Perino says:

    I want to thank you for your work in this area and hopefully your research is read by our state legislators

  5. Sajmon says:

    There are states in the US that had no mass public shootings at all between 1998 and 2015. In my opinion you shouldn’t compare the US as a whole to Norway. It doesn’t make much sense. Instead you should compare for example South Carolina to Norway (both of these places have very similiar population size) or Wisconsin to Norway.


    Struggling to find the true source of data here. How are “mass shootings” defined here? From your paper – “Thus, while we have all the mass public shootings for the US and perhaps Europe, we are very unlikely to ever get all of the cases for the rest of the world.” Other agencies report source data that differs greatly –

  7. john reilly says:

    Dr Lott always enlightens

  8. RAE says:

    Why are so many countries excluded?
    Australia, China, Japan, Iceland, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, Belarus?
    Norway had one horrific shooting in 2011 shooting that claimed 77 lives (not 67 like your map shows). One could argue that would be a statistical anomaly that greatly affected your mean. Like when Bill Gates walks into a bar.
    Take away that anomaly and they’re down to 0.0%. The US doesn’t have that bias because there are so many data points.

    Try widening the scope to look at violent gun deaths (not just mass-shooting and exclude suicide) in first-world countries as Tom was suggesting. The US does not compare well to other 1st world countries. But does look good against less developed countries like El Salvador, Venezuela, Guatemala, Colombia. Is that really who we want to measure against? We’re actually most comparable to the Middle East. Doesn’t that scare you?

    • johnrlott says:

      They are not excluded. If they are zero, what sense would it make to include them in Table 1. However, as made clear in the paper, they are included in calculating ALL the figures and tables.

  9. Frank Groth says:

    Thank you Professor Lott for this latest bit of insight. The world is a very dangerous place and the United States, comparatively, is a relatively safe place. Crime and violence will happen so long as humans exist, so the ability to defend ones self such acts becomes all the more clear as a fundamental human right everywhere in the world.

  10. James Drouin says:

    John, thanks for all the hard work.

  11. JJJTX says:

    DEMOCRATS and most governments do not care about facts.

    They care about CONTROL.

  12. Thomas L Frey says:

    When I read your report, I felt the heads of millions of progressive fascists explode in disbelief that facts continue to prove gun control does not work.

    May the 9mm be with you.

  13. Annie says:

    How do you explain the large difference between Canada and the US? They should be natural peers in this data because of their first-world status and location, no? I know Canada’s population is 10x smaller, but even per capita there is a very large difference. Same with the UK.

    Is it possible for the US to hit similar numbers, and how might that happen?

  14. Dan W says:

    John I have a close family member who is critziing your study could you please provide feedback to these points and I will repost it. Thank You.

    “Of course, but don’t take my word for it. If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to review the study yourself, as well as the appendices, and draw your own conclusions. The biggest problem in the world right now is a lack of skepticism, critical analysis of claims, and propagation of information that is not reviewed, but rather only confirms or reinforces our own beliefs and biases, of which almost all media sources are guilty. Here are my problems with the paper:

    1. There are multiple data sources used in comparison which is problematic. For the US, it’s CPRC’s review of news reports, for the rest of the world, it’s GTD data. Should be the same data source, or obtained via the same means and criteria in order to draw valid conclusions. Also, lots of incomplete data, but conclusions made in the paper assuming complete worldwide data.
    2. Multiple graphs and conclusions compare US to “the rest of the world” though data is incomplete and does not include all countries, therefore this claim cannot be made. Take this claim (of many) for example from the study: “The list of all of our 2,407 cases from 1998 to 2015 is provided in Appendices 1 and 2. Of those, 53 occurred in the United States and 2,354 happened in the rest of the world. While the US had about 4.6 percent of the world’s population during this period, it had just 2.20 percent of the mass public shootings.” The percentage of the world population is irrelevant. Rather, the study should be using percentage population of those countries included in the study (97 of the 195 or countries on earth).
    3. Conclusions should be made when comparing variables under similar circumstances and conditions. Thus, in order to draw the best conclusions comparing one countries experiences to another, mass shootings in America should be compared to other countries that are similar in demographic, political stability,, socially and culturally, and economically. Most of the countries with higher “mass shootings” list in the study are in countries that have active military or insurgent conflicts (Afghanistan, Iraq, and multiple African countries). I don’t think anyone is arguing that America has more gun violence or mass shootings than these countries. Further, mass shootings done by militant groups is not the same phenomenon as what is going on in America.
    4. Inappropriate use of statistical methods, specifically when drawing conclusions about frequency of rare events in small countries skewing the data.
    5. Implication of article is that less mass shooting makes America therefore safer. Using the author’s own data (which again, is flawed) here is a list of “western” countries that have lower mass shooting rates: UK, Italy, Germany, Canada, Mexico, Netherlands, South Korea, France.
    6. Not a flaw in the study but an interesting note: Switzerland, which I often see touted as uber safe given high level of gun ownership, according to these statistics, has a greater number of “mass shootings” per capita than the US.”

    • johnrlott says:

      Quick responses
      1) The University of Maryland data set is not complete. We spent a lot of time and effort to search for other cases that were missed in that data. You have all the cases in the US and not all the cases in the rest of the world, which we discuss, means that the US share is an overestimate of their true share. If someone else’s data set isn’t complete, it is necessary to try to complete it. This is explained in the paper. Using an incomplete data set, as your family member suggests, would definitely bias the results to artificially inflating the US share even more than they are inflated.
      2) All the countries are included in the graphs and figures. They are not all in Table 1 because little would be added to include a list of countries where they had zero attacks. See Appendix 4 lists all the countries included.
      3) We point out that a number of European countries, supposedly ones that your family member would view as similar to the US, have much higher murder rates from mass public shootings.
      4) We show comparisons at both the country and subcontinent level. In any case, if this was a real consideration, people wouldn’t be able to make comparisons for crime rates across US states or cities.
      5) Many people claim that the US is unique in terms of mass public shootings, and the point of the paper is that simply isn’t true.
      6) As a side note, all the mass public shootings in Switzerland have occurred in those very tiny areas within the country were people cannot carry concealed handguns for protection. BTW, Switzerland is a “small” population country, so I assume that your family member doesn’t put any weight on it.

      • Dan W says:

        Thank You so much John for your thoughtful response. I have reposted your quick points and I am very grateful for your time and all that you do to further the cause of informing the public of these very important facts about responsible gun ownership and protecting the rights of people to defend themselves.

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