Adam Lankford, a criminal justice professor at University of Alabama, presented a study at the American Sociological Association meeting recently that asked the question: Why do so many mass shootings happen in the US?
First, he laid out the landscape. Between 1966 and 2012, the US had 31% of mass shootings with only 5% of the world’s population.
Lankford answers the question with a twofold explanation. The first reason is that the US has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world, with 88.8 firearms per 100 people, far ahead of the second place Yemen, with 54.8 firearms per 100 people – and they’ve got a war going on. The second reason is the importance of fame in American culture. He argues that very often, mass shooters are attention seekers, hence the reason for committing the murders in public. It is the combination of the availability of guns and the need for attention that leads to the out-sized number of mass shootings plaguing the US.