5 percent of the world's population accounted for a disproportionate 31 percent of public mass shooters globally from 1966-2012, according to new research presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.
An analysis examined the years 1966-2012 using data from the New York City Police Department's 2012 active shooter report, the FBI's 2014 active shooter report, and multiple international sources. The author says it is the first quantitative analysis of all reported public mass shootings around the world that resulted in the deaths of four or more people. By definition, these shootings do not include incidents that occurred solely in domestic settings or were primarily gang-related, drive-by shootings, hostage taking incidents, or robberies.
In other words, it factored out all ordinary crime and instead focused instead of mentally unbalanced people.
"The United States, Yemen, Switzerland, Finland, and Serbia are ranked as the Top 5 countries in firearms owned per capita, according to the 2007 Small Arms Survey, and my study found that all five are ranked in the Top 15 countries in public mass shooters per capita," said study author Adam Lankford, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Alabama. "That is not a coincidence. My study provides empirical evidence, based on my quantitative assessment of 171 countries, that a nation's civilian firearm ownership rate is the strongest predictor of its number of public mass shooters. Until now, everyone was simply speculating about the relationship between firearms and public mass shootings. My study provides empirical evidence of a positive association between the two."
What is left out is that crime and suicide are the biggest uses of firearms. The U.K. bans guns, for example, but it holds down the top three spots in violent crime. And it draws odd correlations, like multiple guns, which are only used in mass shootings. This week, a former television employee and clear racist gunned down a broadcaster and a camera man, but that incident would not count in this analysis.
"Given the fact that the United States has over 200 million more firearms in circulation than any other country, it's not surprising that our public mass shooters would be more likely to arm themselves with multiple weapons than foreign offenders," Lankford said. "I was surprised, however, that the average number of victims killed by each shooter was actually higher in other countries (8.81 victims) than it was in the United States (6.87 victims) because so many horrific attacks have occurred here."
What it should mean is that murders would be much higher. Yet they are not. Gun ownership doubled this century but murders plummeted. Choosing such a narrow focus - "shooting sprees" but not crime - may hint at an ideological goal rather than an informative one.
Obviously by focusing on just shooting sprees, all by people on psychiatric medication, it makes it seem like schools, factories/warehouses, and office buildings than offenders in other countries, where they were more likely to strike in military settings, such as bases, barracks, and checkpoints.
Regardless of its clear limitation, Lankford claims, "The most obvious implication is that the United States could likely reduce its number of school shootings, workplace shootings, and public mass shootings in other places if it reduced the number of guns in circulation."
Five percent of the world's population, the U.S., has also accounted for 40 percent of the world's science output since 1966. Freedom for a few dozen people to commit heinous acts may also mean freedom to lead the world in free thought and technological creativity.