“This (Mass public shootings) only happens in America.”

In his June 18, 2015, remarks from the White House, Barack Obama said, “Now is the time for mourning and for healing. But let’s be clear: At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.”

This claim would only be made by someone utterly unfamiliar with the world outside the U.S.  Anyone familiar at all with news from around the world would never state or repeat this falsehood. Even the left-leaning Politifact rated both of these statements “Mostly False” in this June 2015 article.

The Crime Prevention Research Center has listed the 68 mass shootings from around the world between 1970 and 2017 in which 15 people or more were killed in this article: CPRC listing of 68 worst mass shootings 1970-2017 They are all listed by country and date so you can check it yourself for accuracy.  23 of the top 25, and 60 of the 68 total, happened outside the U.S. Following the list of incidents is a list by country.

This summary of the numbers appears in the article:

Number murdered Deaths per 1 million people
Africa 2169 1.455
Australia 35 1.513
Europe 312 0.520
India/Pakistan 440 0.307
Israel 55 6.825
USA 226 0.700

The takeaways from this are:

  • Africa has twice the rate of mass shooting deaths the U.S. does.
  • The US is truly huge compared to many countries and it is important to not just go by number of incidents, but the per capita rate, if you want to compare. For instance,
  • Australia’s number of murdered looks small at 35, but due to the small population of Australia their per capita rate was also twice the U.S. rate.
  • Israel’s also looks small at 55, but their small size and population puts them at the top of deaths per capita, by several times.
  • The US rate is indeed slightly higher than Europe’s, but not massively
  • The statement “this doesn’t happen in other countries” is clearly not supported and would be laughable if not so serious.
  • While Europe has a slightly smaller rate of death by mass shooting than the U.S. does, remember that Europe has many times higher mass murder by bomb and truck than the U.S. does. If murderers just turn to using trucks and bombs, have you really accomplished anything?

Some people like to limit this claim to comparing “industrialized” countries, and also to limit the comparison to more recent years. Even doing that, the numbers become:

Annual Death rate per million people from mass public shootings 2009-2015

Rank Country Rate
1 Norway 1.888
2 Serbia 0.381
3 France 0.347
4 Macedonia 0.337
5 Albania 0.206
6 Slovakia 0.185
7 Switzerland 0.142
8 Finland 0.132
9 Belgium 0.128
10 Czech Republic 0.123
11 USA 0.089
12 Austria 0.068
13 Netherlands 0.051
14 Canada 0.032
15 England 0.027
16 Germany 0.023
17 Russia 0.012
18 Italy 0.009

As CPRC points out, some people make the distinction that Obama said “Frequency of” at least in his second sentence within the claim.  But even looking at frequency, the US places 12th as opposed to the 11th it places in death rate. So this is a distinction without a difference.

Some point out that including Norway isn’t fair as their number basically comes from one single horrendous incident in 2011, but should we ignore that it happened?


This claim is false and can be easily proven so using reports and or data from any source which covers events outside the U.S. Sadly, most of the American news outlets don’t qualify.