….In the November attacks, 129 people were killed and 352 were injured. In just 2015, France suffered more casualties – killings and injuries – from mass public shootings than the U.S. has suffered during Obama’s entire presidency (508 to 424). This number includes the San Bernandino massacre on Wednesday.
Obama also overlooks Norway, where Anders Behring Breivik used a gun to kill 67 people and wound 110 others. Still others were killed by bombs that Breivik detonated. Of the four worst K-12 school shootings, three have occurred in Europe. Germany had two of these — one in 2002 at Erfut and another in 2009 at Winnenden, with a total death toll of 34.
Obama isn’t correct even if he meant the frequency of fatalities or attacks. Many European countries actually have higher rates of death from public shootings that resulted in four or more murders. It’s simply a matter of adjusting for America’s much larger population.
Let’s look at mass public shootings from 2009 to the middle of June this year. To compare fairly with American shootings, I excluded attacks that might be better classified as struggles over sovereignty. For instance, I did not count the 22 people killed in the Macedonian town of Kumanovo last month.
Norway had the highest annual death rate, with 2 mass public shooting fatalities per million people. Macedonia had a rate of 0.38, Serbia 0.28, Slovakia 0.20, Finland 0.14, Belgium 0.14, and the Czech Republic 0.13. The US comes in No. 8 with 0.095 mass public shooting fatalities per million people. Austria and Switzerland are close behind.
In terms of the frequency of attacks, the United States ranks ninth, with 0.09 attacks per million people. Macedonia, Serbia, Switzerland, Norway, Slovakia, Finland, Belgium, and the Czech Republic all had higher rates.
There are two other studies on these questions that have gotten a fair amount of attention.
One, by State University of New York-Oswego public justice professor Jaclyn Schildkraut and Texas State University researcher H. Jaymi Elsass, who look at shootings across countries, has left out a large number of shootings in other countries.
Yet, despite the extensive news coverage their study has received, they miss a lot of cases. For example, in France, they miss three mass public shootings:
- Tours, France, October 29, 2001: four people were killed and 10 wounded when a French railway worker started killing people at a busy intersection in the city.
- Nanterre, France, March 27, 2002: a man kills eight city councilors after a city council meeting.
- Toulouse, France, March 19, 2012, Mohammed Merah killed four people (the killer also killed people in Montauban, France).
Other cases are missed in such countries as Austria, Belgium, Finland, Netherlands, Italy, Macedonia, Spain, Switzerland and Slovakia.
It takes a lot of time and effort to find all the cases, but if you get all the attacks in the U.S. and miss those in other countries, it makes the U.S. look a lot worse…