Mass shootings are a distinctly American problem.
Between 2000 and 2014, there were 33 mass shootings in Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, England, Germany, Finland, Israel, Mexico, Norway, Russia, South Africa and Switzerland combined.
Over the same time period, there were 133 mass shootings in the United States, killing 487 people.
Countries like Australia have dealt with large mass shootings, tightened up their gun laws in response and virtually eliminated the problem.
The American response has been to do nothing.
Watching international news coverage of the Oregon gun massacre, it quickly becomes clear that the rest of the world is repulsed and confused by America’s inaction.
On a roundtable on BBC News, Polly Toynbee of The Gaurdian said, “It’s one of the reasons why a lot of people in the outside world always regard America as being certifiably insane.” The rest of the panel of journalists from around the world largely agreed.
On Global National, a Canadian news program, correspondent Paul Johnson, reporting from Oregon, introduced his segment this way: “Canadians and many around the world look at the U.S. and how these shootings keep happening over and over again and wonder why their aren’t better laws here about who can get guns.” In his report, a clearly perplexed Johnson finds that local residents actually want easier access to guns.
Sky News, another British channel, was even harsher. “Part of America is a third world country, isn’t it really. The middle bit of America. People don’t even know where the rest of the world is. I think America actually needs to brighten itself up a bit,” said broadcast James Whale. The rest of the panel was not much more generous.
In the past, America has responded to mass shootings not by strengthening gun laws, but by weakening them. After 26 people, including 20 children, were murdered by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary, Congress passed an NRA-approved law weakening gun regulations in a variety of ways — including shielding gun dealers who “lose” guns from scrutiny.