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Data shows U.S. is an outlier when it comes to mass shootings, gun laws

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Posted at 9:51 AM, May 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-26 10:51:08-04

The deadly elementary school shooting in Texas is not normal. No other nation in the world suffers mass shootings — or school shootings — like the United States has again and again.

It's happened in Newtown, Connecticut, in Parkland, Florida and now in Uvalde, Texas — 19 children and two teachers were killed by an 18-year-old with a rifle.

This is not normal. Let’s look at what we mean by that.

The U.S. is a clear outlier when looking at the number of school shootings each year. That’s true overall, and that’s true per capita.

The same is true for mass shootings overall, when looking at shootings of four or more people in one instance. The U.S. has a problem unlike any other nation.

The reason behind that depends on who you ask, but a lot of analysis and beliefs on that question come down to two factors: mental health and guns.  

What’s notable there is that the mental health crisis in the U.S., by international standards at least, is actually very much in line with many other countries.

The best estimates and data on mental health disorders show the U.S. rate is comparable to much of Europe, parts of South America and North Africa.

Meanwhile, countries with the highest rate of mental health disorders include Australia, a country where mass shootings are rare.

So, that leaves guns. When it comes to guns, once again, the U.S. is very much not a normal country.

The U.S. has more guns per person than any other nation and it's not especially close. The nation has more than twice as many guns per capita as the next country, which is Yemen.

Look at it this way: With 393 million firearms owned by civilians in the U.S., there are enough guns to arm every man, woman and child in America, and then throw in a second gun for another 63 million people.

In many parts of the U.S., those guns are easily accessible, even for 18-year-olds, with few or no questions asked.

In study after study, researchers have pointed to this proliferation of guns as the key factor behind the high rates of gun violence and mass shootings in America.

There are a lot of factors in America’s gun violence epidemic. Some of them are complicated, but on this factor — the ease of access to firearms — the data is perfectly clear: This is not normal. 

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