There is no official definition of a mass shooting, and many people define them differently. However, the two factors that are always involved in any definition are the bodily harm of multiple people and the type of weapon used. A shooting implies that there is a gun involved, regardless of the type of firearm, and having more than one person injured or dead are both generally agreed upon. The possible scenarios in which this could happen are plentiful, and sadly mass shootings have happened in all kinds of environments all over the world. The frequency with which they happen somewhat depends on how you define it.
It is fairly rare for a mass shooting to happen at random. Generally speaking, the perpetrator has thought about and planned it for some time in advance, often in order to get weapons, define their targets, and plan a way to carry it out. It is very often the case that the shooter has a vendetta against a certain group of people or feels that they have something to gain by carrying out multiple murders. The three most common types of mass shootings are family shootings where a perpetrator kills their family and/or spouse, felony killings which usually involve murder for financial gain, and public mass killings, which is probably what most people think of when they hear the term "mass shooting." Despite their visibility in the media, public mass killings are the rarest type of mass shooting. For the sake of this article, it can be assumed that a mass shooting is synonymous with a public mass killing.
It is very challenging to acquire accurate data about mass shootings around the world, largely because of the differing definitions of the term. One factor that is more easily measured is gun-related deaths in a country, and very few of those are related to public mass shootings. Suicide is a more common way for someone to die with a firearm than any form of homicide. To give you some idea of the proportions, in 2016 there were 37,353 gun deaths in the United States. Of these 22,938 were suicides and 14,415 were homicides. Within the homicides, only 71 were a result of a mass shooting.
In no particular order, here is a list of developed countries other than the United States that have experienced one or more mass shootings.
While the United States does have an unusually high rate of gun violence and mass shootings for a highly developed and wealthy nation, it is a common misconception it is the worst country in the world in terms of mass shooting rates. The truth of the matter is that the United States is actually number sixty-six on the list of countries in terms of mass shooting rates per capita, but they have had more mass shootings than any other country in terms of overall numbers.
That finding rings true when all countries around the world are taken into consideration. Looking at the United States alongside all the countries in Europe alone, the United States has the twelfth highest mass shooting rate. A few of the European countries with a higher mass shooting rate per capita than the United States include Russia, Norway, France, Switzerland and Finland.
It certainly seems that the United States has the highest mass shootings rate of all the land, but this has been proven untrue. In recent years, the Crime Prevention Research Center released information regarding the annual death rates as a result of mass shootings around the world. The countries that were looked at in this data analysis were...
- The Czech Republic
- The United States of America
- The Netherlands
The Crime Prevention Research Center looked at the death rates that resulted from mass shootings between the years 2009 and 2015. Here are the average death rates, in millions, per country, between 2009 and 2015. The countries are already listed in order of the highest death rates to the lowest median death rates.
- Norway 1.888
- Serbia 0.381
- France 0.347
- Macedonia 0.337
- Albania 0.206
- Slovakia 0.185
- Switzerland 0.142
- Finland 0.132
- Belgium 0.128
- The Czech Republic 0.123
- The United States of America 0.089
- Austria 0.068
- The Netherlands 0.051
- Canada 0.032
- England 0.027
- Germany 0.023
- Russia 0.012
- Italy 0.009
While Norway has one of the lowest violent crime rates in the world, its death rate is the highest on this list. This is because on July 22, 2011, a man posed as a police officer opened fire on a summer camp in Otøya, killing 85 people. This mass shooting came shortly after a bomb exploded in Oslo, killing seven people. Police arrested suspect Anders Behring Breivik for the shooting, who was charged with committing acts of terrorism. It is unclear whether he was responsible or connected to the bomb in Oslo.