New Study Claims Rate of Mass Public Shootings Is Higher Globally and Increasing More Rapidly

The study’s author, John Lott. (Photo: JohnLott.com)

A common refrain of the anti-gun lobby claims that the United States stands alone in its frequency of mass public shootings.

On CBS Evening News in 2015, for example, then-President Barack Obama claimed, “The one thing we do know is that we have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world.”

According to a new study, Obama’s statement couldn’t be further from the truth.

Dr. John R. Lott, President of the Crime Prevention Research Center, considered mass public shootings worldwide between 1998 and 2015 and found that the United States makes up less than 1.13 percent of the mass public shooters, 1.77 percent of their murders, and 2.19 percent of their attacks – all while accounting for 4.6 percent of the world’s population.

Using the University of Maryland Global Terrorism Database along with newspaper searches, Lott and team identified 2,772 attacks and at least 5,764 shooters outside the United States and 62 attacks and 66 shooters within the U.S.

SEE ALSO: Obama-Era Study Refuted, US Accounts for Less than 3% of ‘Mass Shootings’

Researchers defined “mass public shooting” according to the FBI’s definition: four or more people killed at one time in one public place. As per the FBI’s definition, Lott excluded shootings that resulted from gang or drug violence, occurred in the commission of another ongoing crime such as robbery, or arose primarily from self-defense.

Lott and his team also found that the rate of growth for the frequency of mass public shootings in the rest of the world is 291 percent faster than for the U.S.

“While Americans are understandably concerned with the increased frequency and severity of mass public shootings, the rest of the world has experienced a much larger increase in their per capita rates than the United States,” Lott said.

Anti-gun politicians will sometimes hedge their statements with words like “advanced” or “rich” when comparing the U.S. mass public shooting rate with other countries.

At a 2015 Conference of Mayors, for example, Obama said, “You don’t see murder on this kind of scale, with this kind of frequency, in any other advanced nation on Earth.”

While it is true that many of the countries at the top of Lott’s list are less developed, a number of “advanced” countries still outpace the United States’ mass public shooting rate.

The full study (which is worth a read at only 41 pages) includes a list of all 101 countries Lott considered. In the list of the number of attacks per 100,000 people, Israel (0.127), Finland (0.058), Switzerland (0.041), Russia (0.026), and Norway (0.022) all outpace the U.S. (0.021). Belgium (0.019) and France (0.013) aren’t far behind.  

SEE ALSO: Bloomberg-Funded Study Finds that ‘Assault Weapon’ Bans Don’t Stop Mass Shootings

Lott’s numbers also prove conclusively that a high number of firearms in a country does not lead to high rates of mass public shootings.

With a gun ownership rate of 88.8 guns per 100 people, the United States far outpaces all other 100 countries. The next highest country is Yemen (about 55 guns per 100 people) followed by Finland and Switzerland (about 46).

If a high number of guns led to a high number of mass public shootings, one would expect the United States to rank at or near the top of the list. Instead, it ranks 66th out of the 101 countries studied.

This isn’t the first time Lott has considered this issue. In 2018, Lott took down an anti-gun researcher who claimed that the United States accounted for 31 percent of mass public shooters worldwide between 1966 and 2012. Lott performed a similar analysis to the one above and found that between 1998 and 2012, the U.S. only accounted for 2.88 percent of mass shootings.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Dan February 12, 2021, 3:08 pm

    This is literally the most ridiculous “study.” Believe me when I say you do NOT want to cite this research as evidence mass shootings are not a BFD here in the US. Comparing the US to places where active war is taking place is incredibly misleading. For example, the data from Russia was primarily from Chechnya. Let’s see a comparison of places where war is not taking place and governments are stable. This study is not a good study. Period. My guess is most of the commenters here have NOT read the actual study and are taking the column author’s word for it. I doubt whether even he has read it.

  • Mark August 29, 2020, 12:29 am

    Go to the Crime Research website for more research by Dr. Lott than you have time to read. His research is credible showing both validity and reliability research factors. In other words he doesn’t cherry pick the data to prove an outcome. His books are well worth the read.

  • James Pitre August 28, 2020, 5:03 pm

    I agree that there was a lot of effort put into this report/study, however the comparisons and the results from such places as Iraq and Afghanistan have little to do with the USA which puts the conclusions seriously in doubt insofar as any sort of ranking associated with the USA. There is also a lack of explanation as to exactly how the numbers for places like Switzerland and Norway are collected and categorized.
    To me, the whole study has been structured to to support a preconceived notion that the Obama statements are untrue and not based on fact, when in fact the Obama statements they are much closer to the real truth than this concocted study.

  • bruce porter August 28, 2020, 11:44 am

    For their lack of credbility, Dr. Lott’s studies have regularly drawn negative reviews by organizations such as the New England Journal of Medicine, American Journal of Public Health and the National Academy of Sciences. Even in this one, his own statistics show that, although shootings in the US are fewer than those in bloodbath regions of Africa, Asia and South America, they’re three to four times higher than those in the countries we normally compare ourselves to, which are the other industrialized nations of Europe. The only area it’s conceded he’s correct on is that concealed carry laws do not result in an increase in the crime rate.

  • SS Rao August 28, 2020, 11:34 am

    Interesting.
    I would like to read the same analysis including data from suicides, homicides, robberies, assaults, and drug-related crimes to gain a broader understanding of firearms-related crimes.

  • Buck August 28, 2020, 11:05 am

    Obama said and did whatever Soros and his Globalist backers ordered. We have laws to punish the criminals and laws to enable the citizen to own firearms fit for defending yourself. Imagine the horror if the government had all the guns!

  • Big Al 45 August 28, 2020, 10:31 am

    Even if it were, are you aware of the MASSIVE amounts of info that has to obtained, broken down, analyized and then formatted in an understandable way?!?!?!?!?!
    It takes a hell of a lot of time and effort.

  • Kelly 34 August 28, 2020, 9:50 am

    As the NWO tightens its grip people will become more despondent and these acts will be more frequent. Keep your powder dry it may get bad here in the U. S. but will be many times worse other places and those there will be coming for what we have. The globalist politicians we have have to go.

  • Boss August 28, 2020, 8:07 am

    Now that California’s magazine ban is UNCONSTITUTIONAL, you are sure to see another mass shooting soon. Lives to the Liberals are only important when they can be controlled or used.

    • Bill August 31, 2020, 7:34 am

      Precisely! Does everybody remember in Virginia when they had the suppressor Bill’s close to the goal line and I think there were some national suppressor bills floating around too. Well low and behold what happened in Virginia Beach? A man, a city worker, goes out and shoots some people and had a suppressor on his firearm. How convenient. Never before used until they needed to show how evil they were and just so happened that they had an idiot all ready to turn loose, his ” therapist quickly disappeared tio just like the guys from the newspaper shooting in maryland. Their therapists are clowns in America operatives and handlers priming these people for when its convenient to turn these people loose.
      I swear, I cant believe how gullible people are. Look at all of our “mass shootings” and tell me that the clowns in America were not involved.

  • danger August 28, 2020, 7:18 am

    It’s always amusing when you consider liberal leaning charts always embellish the results, skewing them to fit their own narrative to drive their own agenda to rid the public of their only defense against would be liberal leaning government politicians driving their agendas, fitting their narrative to achieve total control over the people. What’s really sad is how they’re willing to let this country burn to the ground while allowing the tax paying citizens to suffer the results physically, mentally, and financially, without lifting a finger, all while trying to blame these results on the conservatives, while they don’t lift a finger to contain these narrative driven actions which fully account for their ill achieved narrative that the entire public sees for what it is after a time unfortunately while many of the citizens are still fully engrossed in their fantasy narrative, and results they want to achieve at the expense of everyone elses lives in this country.

  • Christopher Chen August 28, 2020, 2:43 am

    A new study from 2015??

  • Wyatt Earp August 26, 2020, 9:42 am

    Don’t believe anything a anti- gun person say! It has been show their finding is not TRUTH. If they don’t want to be honest with their own database then it no sense of lying about it! AMERICA is a FREE COUNTRY, if they can’t accept that , they shall try living in another country! It NOT the government rights to control our lives! If you need someone to tell you what to do or say. Why did you post about other people RIGHTS? Get off the internet! And shut it off! That the life you want to LIVES! SOCIALISM CONTROL!

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