U.S. has the most public mass shooters in the world, study shows

Alabama professor studied mass shootings in 171 countries over 50-year span

On Wednesday, a mass shooting at a school north of Miami left numerous fatalities.

The Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was not the first mass shooting or even school shooting of the year — not even close.

RELATED: Suspect in custody, 'numerous fatalities' in Florida school shooting

The numbers are staggering.

On average, there is a mass shooting — defined broadly as four or more people injured or killed — almost every day in the U.S.

Those statistics prompted the University of Alabama’s Adam Lankford to take an in-depth look at this epidemic. 

He studied mass shootings in 171 countries from the years 1966-2012 and found that the United States has the most public mass shooters and more than 240 million more guns than the second highest country, India.

RELATED: Interactive story map details school shootings in U.S. in 2018

2017 was the deadliest year of mass shootings in modern U.S. history, with an astounding 345 mass shootings in a 365-day period. Two of those tragedies were among the most deadly ever recorded.

"Not surprisingly, the United States has by far the most public mass shooters," Lankford said. "We had 31 percent of total shooters, despite the fact that we only have 5 percent of the world's population."

Lankford said in terms of total firearms, the U.S. has more than 240 million more firearms than the next highest country — India — and almost double the number of firearms per capita compared to any other country.

He said the U.S. also has more than five times as many mass shooters as Russia, China and India.

"The data clearly showed we're No. 1 in public mass shooters, but we're nowhere near the top in terms of mental health problems or suicide," he said.

He said it goes beyond mere numbers.

“In terms of celebrity culture, in terms of young people and some older people who want to be famous at any cost, the United States does seem to be different than other countries in terms of prioritizing those values,” Lankford said. “And that's particularly dangerous when it comes to public mass shooters because so many of them want fame.”

Read more about Lankford’s research HERE

Original reporting by Kevin Dietz, WDIV

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