The United States leads the world in gun ownership, but it’s the nation’s individualistic culture that puts us at greater risk of mass shootings compared with other countries where guns are prevalent, according to a British criminologist who has studied gun violence in different nations.
Mass shooters in any nation tend to be loners with not much social support who strike out at their communities, schools and families, says Peter Squires of the University of Brighton in the United Kingdom, who has studied mass shootings in his own country, the United States and Europe.
Many other countries where gun ownership is high, such as Norway, Finland, Switzerland and Israel, however, tend to have more tight-knit societies where a strong social bond supports people through crises, and mass killings are fewer, Squires said.
“In a sense they’re less private” than in the United States, “but privacy and individualism is where some of the causes of crime and revenge can be found,” he said.
“What stops crime above all is informal social controls,” he says. “Close-knit societies where people are supported, where their mood swings are appreciated, where if someone starts to go off the rails it’s noted, where you tend to intervene, where there’s more support.”
Squires favors controls on gun ownership but says there’s more to mass killings than the prevalence of guns.
There are far more guns in private hands in the United States than in any other country, according to the latest Small Arms Survey conducted in 2007 by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. On average, the survey reported…