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Why does the U.S. have so many mass shootings?

Updated: Apr. 14, 2021 at 7:28 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Last month’s deadly shootings at spas in Atlanta and at a grocery store in Colorado are the latest mass shootings in America. Why do they continue to happen?

University of Alabama criminology professor Dr. Adam Lankford has been studying mass shootings worldwide for years. His research shows that the U.S. by far leads the way in public mass shootings.

“I found that despite the fact that we have less than 5% of the world’s population, we have about 30% of the world’s public mass shooters. That’s a finding that I actually even replicated using data collected by some skeptics,” Lankford said.

Lankford looked at 40 years’ worth of data from 171 countries. In the U.S., Lankford says there were 90 mass shootings in that timeframe. What he found is there is a direct link between the number of guns in one country and mass shootings.

“The factor that explains it the most is easy access to firearms in the United States and it’s really easy access for people who are dangerous,” Lankford said.

Lankford also found that in the U.S., people’s chances of being killed in a mass shooting are greater if they are at work or school compared to incidents typically happening near military bases overseas.

In more than half of the U.S. incidents, Lankford says the shooter had more than one firearm…many of them didn’t own firearms until the last year of their attack.

“It wasn’t that firearms were a hobby or something that was a part of their culture or upbringing. It was actually that once they became interested in killing then they knew they needed a gun to use as a tool to reach their goal,” Lankford said.

But on average, Lankford says attackers in the U-S also kill fewer victims. He attributes that to a better response time and training from law enforcement.

So, what’s the solution? Some states have red flag laws which give family members or law enforcement the right to legally remove guns, temporarily, from a person who may be a danger to others or themselves. Currently in Alabama, domestic abusers cannot have guns as well as those convicted of violent crimes. But some say the law needs more teeth to include more situations.

“If somebody is talking about being interested in a mass shooting, that person shouldn’t be able to purchase firearms and there are things like red flag laws which I encourage people to support because that keeps dangerous people from getting guns while preserving everyone else’s rights,” Lankford said.

Lankford tells us the U.S. should do more to offer mental health services and also believes the media can play a part in bringing down the number of mass shootings by giving less publicity to the shooters.

The Biden administration calls gun violence in the U.S. an epidemic. The president recently unveiled a series of executive actions meant to reduce gun violence. Biden is also calling for a national red flag law. All of this happening after the recent string of mass shootings across the country.

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