In the aftermath of a tragedy like the mass shooting in Las Vegas, political claims are tossed around rather quickly, and with little regard to the facts. Advocates of gun prohibition are quick to claim that the U.S. is uniquely prone to such events because of the Second Amendment’s protection of the right to keep and bear arms.
This claim, however, is false. In fact, as figures from the Crime Prevention Research Center show, “there were 55 percent more casualties per capita from mass public shootings in [the European Union] than U.S. from 2009-15.”
In other words, the opposite is true. There are actually more occurrences of, and deaths from, mass shootings in Europe than the United States, on a per capita basis.
Mass shootings are less common in the United States compared to Europe
As the following tables from CPRC show that the United States is in the middle when ranked against European countries that have, for the most part, far more restrictive gun laws.
The statistics show that an individual’s chance of being killed in a mass shooting are actually worse in Europe than in the United States.
President Obama’s claim that “this just doesn’t happen in other countries,” as Obama notoriously said in 2015, is demonstrably false. So too, is the implication that European-style gun laws would likely make any appreciable difference to the frequency of mass shootings.
The desire for a quick-fix solution is understandable after such an aching tragedy as in Las Vegas. But easy answers aren’t necessarily the right ones.
Rate of gun homicides is higher in America than in Europe, but rate of mass shootings is lower
It is true that the United States has a higher overall rate of gun homicides. But mass shootings and terrorist incidents are only a tiny fraction of that figure.
The vast majority are gang-related shootings tied to organized crime, particularly related to the prohibition of illegal drugs. These killings don’t get nearly as much news coverage and attention, but the body count associated with them is many times higher than all mass shooting incidents combined.
The bottom is clear: European-style gun laws are not likely to have prevented what happened in Las Vegas.
(Photo of an ambulance leaving the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Ave. after a mass shooting at a country music festival nearby on October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada by Ethan Miller.)