A study on mass shootings in developed countries showed that 101 out of 139 attacks took place in the US between 1998 and 2019, leading to 816 deaths.
The US accounts for 73 percent of 139 mass shootings that occurred in developed countries between 1998 to 2019, according to a new study.
Published in the International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice, the study compared mass shootings in the US against developed and developing countries.
The findings also found that 62 percent of all 1,318 fatalities from mass shootings during the period happened in the US.
Of the 101 attacks that occurred in the US between 1998 and 2019, there were 816 deaths. In comparison, France had the next highest number of mass shootings with eight, which led to 179 deaths.
Half of the 36 countries classified as developed did not have a single mass shooting, and only 10 had more than one: Belgium, Czech Republic, Italy, Netherlands and Switzerland each with two mass shootings, Finland had three, Canada had four, Germany had five, followed by France and the US.
The US also has a mass shooting every single year – the only country to do so.
The study defined a mass shooting as “a gun violence incident carried out in one or more public or populated locations within 24 hours, involving at least some victims chosen at random and/or for their symbolic value”.
The incident must include at least four or more deaths during the shooting.
The research was carried out by Assistant Professor Dr Jason R Silva from William Peterson University, who has analysed the differences in characteristics between US mass shootings and other countries.
The study also offered some emerging patterns to the profile of perpetrators of mass shootings.
It found that 91 percent of perpetrators were born in the country they attacked, 99 percent were male, one-third had military experience, and 7 percent had a history of law enforcement experience.
Dr Silva, based at the University’s Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, says it is important to learn lessons from incidents for future approaches.
“Many developed countries instituted policies in the immediate aftermath of an attack that may have contributed to stopping the problem, and this can provide lessons for future approaches to US mass shooting intervention and prevention.
“For example, in the wake of three shootings in Finland between 2007-2009, the Finnish government issued new firearm guidelines for handguns and revolvers, which were the primary firearms during these attacks. Applicants for handgun licences are now required to be active members of a gun club and vetted by their doctor and police.”
By analysing public data from both developed and developing countries around the world, as well as reviewing previous research on mass shootings, Dr Silva was able to paint a picture of the differences and similarities in the characteristics of mass shooting incidents.
Crucially, Dr Silva was also able to provide insight into the type of person carrying out the attacks, such as the details of the incident and the motives of why they took place.
Overall, it was shown that in developed countries, shootings were more likely to be carried out by those with ideological motives, as well as fame-seeking motives. Fame-seeking refers to any shooter expressing a desire for notoriety and/or role model idolisation as a motive for their attack.
Overall, attacks in open spaces like restaurants/malls/bars were the most common, followed by military/police locations, workplaces and schools. Most incidents involved shotguns and handguns.
Isolating the US from other countries, other motives that were significant included employment/financial issues and relationship issues. US shooters were also more likely to use more than one firearm.
“American mass shooters were more likely to attack factories, warehouses, and offices than perpetrators in all other combined countries. While individuals from all countries suffer from strain, this particular strain is largely a US mass shooting motive,” explained Dr Silva.
“Security measures should therefore focus on target hardening in high-risk workplaces, modelling other location-based intervention strategies that have effectively decreased incidents and casualties.”
In developing countries, mass shootings were more likely to involve perpetrators with a military or police history. A motive was often hard to source from public documents, however.
“Mass shootings are a uniquely American problem, particularly in relation to other developed countries,” said Dr Silva.