A new study concludes that more guns does indeed mean more mass shootings
Mass shootings have long become an all too familiar occurrence in the United States. So much so that the rest of the world would be laughing at us if it weren’t so sad. From theater shootings to school shootings and from racially motivated shootings to disgruntled worker shootings, Americans have seen it all. And done nothing.
The reason behind the lack of concern and action, at least on the part of politicians, is the lobbying power of the NRA. The best example of how a small voice can make the loudest noise if it has money.
We’ve all heard their talking points by now courtesy of Wayne LaPierre. They somehow revolve around the need for more guns. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” “(gun) laws can’t control the lawless,” and everyone’s favorite; “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”
LaPierre is wrong just about any time he opens his mouth, but thanks to a new study, we now know with definitive proof that LaPierre and the NRA have always been full of shit. Earlier this week, a study by the American Sociological Association came out debunking the NRA’s theory (or propaganda) that more guns make people safer. In fact the more guns in a society, the less safe people are.
The study reports that the U.S., which has nearly half the world’s civilian-owned guns, is also home to 31 per cent of the world’s mass shootings despite making up only five per cent of the world’s population. According to the study’s author Adam Lankford, that is no 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 [defined as killing four or more people]. My study provides empirical evidence of a positive association between the two.”
According to Lankford, mass shootings in the U.S. differ from those abroad. Shooters in the United States were 3.6 times more likely to have used multiple weapons than those in other countries. In the U.S., more than half of the shooters used at least two weapons.
“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.”
The study determined other factors at play with mass shootings other than guns. Depression, schizophrenia, paranoia, and narcissism all play a role, but people in foreign countries are less likely to indulge in these killing spree “delusions of grandeur” and are less likely to get their hands on the guns necessary for such bloodshed.
“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.”
Mass shootings of course are only one aspect of the firearms problem. Gun-related suicides outnumber homicides two to one in the U.S. and there are 29.7 gun homicides per million people compared to 5.1 here in Canada or 1.4 million in Australia.
Australia by the way, in case you’re still skeptical, was part of Lankford’s study as well. It provides further evidence that reducing the amount of firearms can reduce the number of mass shootings.
From 1987-1996, there were four separate mass shootings that occurred in Australia. 12 days after a mass shooter killed 35 people in the Tasmanian town of Port Arthur, Australia agreed to pass comprehensive gun control laws.
Australia also launched a major buyback program that reduced the country’s total number of firearms by 20 percent. Lankford’s study shows that in the wake of these policies, Australia has yet to experience another mass shooting. From four in nine years to zero in nineteen.
I imagine that Mr. Lankford’s study will be largely ignored in the United States. America rarely looks to the rest of the world for good ideas (health care, paid vacations, the metric system). All this study does is reinforce what gun-control advocates have been saying for years, which leads me to yet another NRA ideology; “who cares about facts.”