Study: More guns, more mass shootings in U.S.

A young girl pays her respects outside Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 18, 2015. (Photo: AFP)

A young girl pays her respects outside Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 18, 2015. (Photo: AFP)

A new global analysis of public mass shootings shows the United States has five times the incident occurrence of any other nation.

University of Alabama Professor Adam Lankford revealed the “dark side of American exceptionalism” during his presentation of the study at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Chicago on Sunday, Newsweek reported.

Lankford noted that although the U.S. only accounts for less than 5 percent of the global population, it carries out 31 percent of all public mass shootings.

Lankford’s study is a quantitative analysis of mass shootings that happened in 171 countries around the world from 1966-2012 and found that the U.S. had 90 such incidences during that 46-year period. The Philippines came second with 18 mass public shootings, Russia had 15, Yemen 11 and France 10.

What was most surprising to Lankford, he told Newsweek, was the strong relationship between firearm ownership rates and mass shootings.

The U.S. also tops the world in terms of civilian firearm ownership, with Yemen, Switzerland, Finland and Serbia following behind. Each of those countries were also in the top 15 of countries with the most mass shootings, Lankford’s analysis found.

“You can’t be in the top five in firearm ownership and not have this problem,” Lankford said.

The criminal justice professor’s findings run contrary to what many gun rights advocates believe – that more guns equal less crime. Gun groups continually repeat the mantra that more than 90 percent of mass shootings occurred in what they call gun free zones. 

One commonality Lankford discovered by looking at the content of notes typically left behind by shooters before they went on to commit their shootings dealt with them not reaching some life achievement or goal. 

He said that expectations are higher in the United States, where success is idolized, Newsweek notes.

Other stress factors like being fired from work or expelled from school, or being bullied in those places, seemed to have also been at play.

Mental illness could also have hindered a shooters ability to cope with any of those factors, Lankford said.