Yesterday marked the twentieth anniversary of the Dunblane School Massacre, when a monster named Thomas Hamilton entered Dunblane primary school in Scotland and used four handguns to murder 16 children, 1 adult teacher, and injury dozens before killing himself and (hopefully) heading to hell where he belonged. The teacher and half the class pictured below died that day.
On March 13, 1996, Hamilton could use handguns he owned legally, but after the massacre the British public demanded that the UK tighten it’s gun laws further and as of 1997 handguns (excepting historic collectors weapons and sport weapons) became illegal in the England, Scotland, and Wales.
The UK had already banned semi-automatic weapons in 1988 because of the Hungerford Massacre, wherein a monster named Michael Robert Ryan killed 16 people using (in part) two semi-automatic rifles.
The USA enacted a similar ban in 1994 and already had a ban against fully automatic weapons since 1986 that prohibited the ownership and sale of automatic weapons not registered by May 20th of that year (which was still in effect).
The world continued to turn and the the democracies of both the UK and the USA were unaffected by the bans.
Since the firearms bans of 1988 and 1997 the UK has rarely experienced a mass shooting, although one did happen in Cumbria in 2010. A monster named Derrick Bird used a shotgun and .22 rifle to murder a dozen people before committing suicide. Gun bans don’t guarantee that there will never be another mass killing spree, more is the pity. They do reduce the number of mass shootings, however.
In the US, where firearm ownership is sacrosanct, there have been 15 people killed in mass shootings in the last 10 days.
Then there is the rash of mass shootings that the US has endured since the ban on semi-automatic weapons expired in 2004 under President George W. Bush. Shootings, both before and after 1994, where gunman was using semi-automatic weapons have the highest numbers of casualties and fatalities. The McDonald’s massacre in San Ysidro, California killed 21, the Luby’s massacre in Killeen, Texas murdered 22, the Virginia Tech shooter killed 33 people, and 27 people (mostly small children) were killed in Sandy Hook, but shootings between 1994 and 2004 have fewer victims per incident. Not that handguns are insufficient to commit mass murder; Columbine happened in 1999 and like Dunblane involved only handguns, rather than semi-automatic weapons, and yet the gunmen killed 13 people before committing suicide. Nowadays mass shootings have become so common that the US that the media response is minimal and the population is becoming almost blasé about them; another day, another bunch of adults and children slaughtered.
Meanwhile, other developed countries have enjoyed the rarity of mass shootings in their lands. Occasionally, statistical manipulation is used to “prove” that there are plenty of mass shootings in other developed countries based on the number of per capita deaths from mass shootings. This is almost always part of an argument that gun bans don’t work and any firearms control in the US is useless, anti-constitutional, tyranny.
If the gun bans in other developed countries HAD failed to prevent mass shootings, that claim would have some validity. Unfortunately for that argument, the gun bans have actually kept the mass shootings really, really rare in comparison to the US.
Here is the actual chart:
Note that 1) the chart is from 2000 –2014 and 2) the chart rates the deaths PER 100,000 people. Since Norway, Finland, and Switzerland have much smaller populations than the US, their per capita deaths seem much larger at first glance. Especially Norway, which had a horrific mass shooting in 2011 that murdered 77 people in one fell swoop. The smaller populations of the Nordic countries mean that the single incident of mass shootings in Norway and Switzerland, and the two mass shootings in Finland, result in more per capita deaths in 14 years than in the 133 mass shootings that occurred in the US during the same period. Nevertheless, there is no escaping the fact that the US had 127 MORE mass shootings than the next highest number of mass shootings in a developed country, which was 6 in Germany.
Moreover, if you compare the US, which has extreme leniency in gun ownership, with the UK, where guns are scarce, you see that ANY homicide by guns in UK is a infinitesimal fraction of the homicide by gun in the USA.
It is obvious and indisputable that countries with strong gun control and regulation have radically fewer mass shootings than the USA.
These facts do not matter a tiny gnat-poo to a section of the US population. There are people who sincerely believe that owning guns — even semi-automatic weapons that exist for no other purpose than to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time – are crucial and necessary to the preservation of “freedom” and democracy. Although this is a clear fetishization of firearms, those people somehow have a lock on gun legislation despite the fact the vast majority of Americans support gun control.
Thus, people in the USA continue to be shot to death at rates that are nearly inconceivable for people in almost all other developed countries. To be frank, I don’t see this changing any time soon … and it depresses me.