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

Nov 22, 2018 | Featured

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. The data for the first sixteen years of this period was published in a peer-reviewed journal available here.

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



  1. Tom Maguire

    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

      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

        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

          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.

        • leenavy

          It’s not an obsession with guns. It’s an obsession with maintaining freedom and independence. And expecting the government to obey and honor the rights acknowledged in the Constitution.

        • Paul

          The list in the article reveals that the US rate is 0.13. That is below Norway (1.46), Israel (0.61), Finland (0.44), Switzerland (0.30), France (0.28), India (0.21), and Russia (0.17). Selected countries with rates lower than the US include Italy and Canada (0.01), the UK (0.02), Germany and the Netherlands (0.04), Austria (0.05), and the Belgiums (0.10).

      • Sean

        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

          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

            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

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

        • Dean Anniballi

          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.

          • GDC

            Politicians do not talk about facts they give their opinion based sometimes with facts that support their narrative. Unlike research results that should report only what is found (good or bad). Unfortunately, many believe what they hear repeatedly and from politicians to be the honest truth and when presented with facts it is hard to comprehend because they have heard differently and formed an opinion. Keep an open mind and do some fact checking for yourself.

  2. Jack Smith

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

    • johnrlott

      No. Virtually all the attacks in the US are in gun-free zones and ALL the attacks in Europe are in gun-free zones, so there wouldn’t be much to compare. Doing it for other countries would require significantly more work, but given the strict gun control in many countries, it would be easy for many places.

      • Robert

        How do you define a gun free zone? The placement of a sign or just places where good folks shouldnt bring guns? Specifically you said ALL mass shootings are in gun free zones but we have seen many instances where they havent been including some colleges.

      • Bob

        That is a false statment. John Lott spreading misinformation. Color me surprised.

        • Jeffrey Kaufman, M.D.

          Bob, without presenting contradictory data your attack on Dr Lott’s reputation and credibility fails. Science and statistics are two areas where empty words lose power, where personal smears show as baseless, but where an argument supported by evidence takes the high road. Think for yourself! Avoid parroting others with an agenda. After all, it’s all about preservation of life. Its time for us to all push for an end to anti-selfdefense legislation!

          • Ed Sunderland

            Doctor Jeff is right. As these two recent shootings unfolded by a couple deranged left wingers, you know the ones that spray paint cars, rip out Trump signs and smash Trump supporters over the head with deadly objects like bike locks, Chicago racked up similar deadly shooting stats over the same time period with over 60 shootings.

        • Loren

          What’s false about his statements? Let’s look at each:
          1. Virtually all the attacks in the US are in gun-free zones. True. See the link just above.
          2. All the attacks in Europe are in gun-free zones. Also true. Virtually all of Europe is a gun-free zone.
          3. Doing it for other countries would be a lot of work. Do you really doubt this?
          4. However, for many countries it (the above work) would be easy. This is because all the attacks would be in a gun-free zone because the entire country is a gun-free zone.
          Try to keep up.

      • Richard Hinman

        Mr. Lott,
        In your below link, you list 8 mass shootings , (since 1999), that were “in areas where general civilians are allowed to have guns”. Hence NOT gun-free zones.
        In your above comment you say “virtually all the attacks in the US are in gun-free zones”.
        You contradict yourself.

  3. Jan

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

    • johnrlott

      ALL countries that are included in the Small Arms Survey are included in that graph.

  4. Eric

    Is this research peer reviewed or are publishing on your own?

  5. Vance Perino

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

  6. Sajmon

    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.

    • WVMtnDude

      Remove Chicago, Detroit, and Los Angeles (just the cities) and you will tilt the balance significantly. Those cities have some of the strictest gun control laws. I think instead it would be interesting to see the per capita murder rate in select cities, vs new implementation of stricter gun control laws over time. I predict you will see with each new law, the crime rate increases… not before, but after the new laws take effect.

      It is useful for purposes of discussion however, to see that federal laws do not need to be increased in the United States. Countries that have far more restrictive laws, also have higher rates of mass shootings.

    • rps0315

      That’s why you standardize the data to per 100,000 lives to allow for deviations in population differences.


    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 –

    • johnrlott

      Thanks, Justthinking. All that information is available in the paper if you download it.

  8. john reilly

    Dr Lott always enlightens

  9. RAE

    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

      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.

      • RAE

        The legend for the world map should then include green = 0 and a grey = n/a

        I’d like to see your analysis with a larger scope. While very tragic, the 400 victims over 18 years is only about 0.18% of the 213,000 gun homicides in the US over a similar time frame. Do you have the data to compare gun homicides by country? My guess would be that US and Mexico top the list.

  10. Frank Groth

    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.

  11. James Drouin

    John, thanks for all the hard work.

  12. JJJTX

    DEMOCRATS and most governments do not care about facts.

    They care about CONTROL.

  13. Thomas L Frey

    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.

  14. Annie

    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?

    • johnrlott

      Dear Annie: Thanks. There are lots of reasons that crime rates vary across countries that are basically impossible to account for when you look at purely cross-sectional evidence. What you need to do is look at how crime rates change across places before and after a law has been changed and how that change compares to other places that haven’t changed their law over that period of time. For homicide rates, you can see these posts.

      • James

        Canada is fairly different from the US in many ways. I have visited Canada several times. Things that help Canada with violent crime: No prohibition . No war on drugs. The US is their southern neighbor and helps secure their borders. They actually have much stricter immigration policies than the US. Canada’s active military is smaller than the LAPD, freeing up budget for other things.

        From what I remember, they are also much closer to a mono (well, duo thanks to Quebec) than the US.

  15. Dan W

    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

      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

        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.

  16. Todd snyder

    I would also contend that the drug and gang gun violence within our largest cities are a special case and is more akin to violence attributed to organized groups (military) than it is of random violence. Remove the usa’s 5 largest urban areas from our statistics and our gun crime is miniscule.and that with one of the highest gun densities

  17. Chris Naro

    The last mass shooting in Switzerland took place in 2001. 14 people were killed. Since then, there has not been a single mass shooting. Zero. That’s a fact. I live there, so I know, but this can easily be checked, there are many articles about this available.

  18. Joe R.

    The only way to keep you from a “mass shooting” is to kill you. Everyone, ESPECIALLY ANYONE IN YOUR GOVERNMENT, claiming that they can / do protect you on an individual level, needs to be beaten half to death with a wet flip-flip several times a month.

    It should be WRONGFUL, not just wrong, for anyone to make such a claim, as they cannot even guarantee that for themselves.

    FURTHER – no one’s asking them to, but even if they were, that does not govern your sovereignty, and right to try to protect yourself.

    Pay your taxes, and take your chances, and tell everyone selling this b.s. ‘safety’ crap is really only trying to do tyrannical-communism with impunity. And they can’t succeed while you still can vote “NO”, capitally.

    Keep your guns for the end of America, as your RTKABA will never sunset, and will outlast even the idea of America. So, keep your guns, or else you won’t have any vote in what comes next.


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