Every time there’s a mass shooting, someone on the left goes on about how these are uniquely American. They say that other countries don’t have these problems, and since the statistics aren’t exactly easy to find with a quick Google search. What you do find, depending on what you actually type as your search string, are usually articles claiming it’s as All-American as baseball and apple pie.

But is it? Well, it doesn’t look like it is.

Former President Barack Obama, for example, declared after the 2015 shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., that left nine people dead and three injured “this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.”

He went on to say, “It does not happen with this kind of frequency.”

The implication was that the U.S.’s relatively laissez faire approach to gun control is at fault.

According to Politifact, the first sentence was incorrect, noting that between 2000 and 2014 there were 23 incidents of mass shootings in ten other countries besides the United States; though, it added, the second sentence was “not quite as wrong as the first claim.”

The more commonly accepted measure of crime is events per 100,000 population or dead per 100,000. Even then, the U.S. is only fourth on the list of mass-murder deaths per 100,000 people (0.15) compared to #3, Finland (0.34), #2, Norway (1.3), and #1, Switzerland (1.7).

Mass murders (as well as the far common ordinary murders) are disproportionately committed by persons with severe mental illness problems, whose actions are clearly a consequence of those problems—and the U.S. is not alone in suffering from the consequences of their actions, whether they involve firearms or not.

For many people, it is a surprise to find out that there are many mass murders committed with weapons other than firearms.

USA Today gathered data on mass murders (“defined [as] killing four or more victims”) committed in the U.S. from 2006 through 2010.

“A third of mass murders didn’t involve guns at all. In 15 incidents, the victims died in a fire. In 20 others, the killer used a knife or a blunt object,” the newspaper reported.

And let’s be clear here, if a third of all mass murders involve weapons other than guns, there’s no reason to assume a total ban on any type of gun–or even guns in general–would stop the murder.

Currently, anti-gun zealots are calling for bans of so-called “assault weapons” and want them off the streets, but they forget that the Virginia Tech killer murdered 32 people with a Glock 19 and a Walther P22. Those are handguns that would be minimally impacted by any assault weapon ban. The Killer at Luby’s Cafeteria killer also used handguns to slay 23 other people, in this case, a Glock 17 and a Ruger P89. Even Charles Witman, known for gunning down 17 people at the University of Texas only had one semi-automatic rifle, an M1 Carbine which would likely have survived any assault weapon ban in place in 1966.

These incidents aren’t isolated. In fact, the trend of using modern sporting rifles for these heinous crimes is fairly new. That means there’s absolutely no reason to assume an assault weapon ban or a ban on bump stocks would actually have much of an impact on these horrific events.

Mental health a bigger factor

As noted, mental health is a much bigger issue than firearms. In almost every one of these cases, the killer has some kind of mental disorder. This includes cases where they are barred from access to firearms for whatever reason, but still managed to shoot people. It also includes those who didn’t use a gun to commit mass murder.

When anti-gun crusaders use mass murders to justify anti-gun legislation, all they’re doing is using the smoke and mirrors of the mass killing to trick the American public into siding with them. They’re using the horrors of the event to manipulate the public, all while lashing out at any pro-gun activist or politician who dares to “politicize” the event.

Remember, they can use the bodies of the dead as a soapbox. We can’t.

But the deeper point is that all of these killers are mentally unhealthy. They’re sick people who often aren’t getting treated. Part of that is mental health treatment is tricky. It’s not like you can take a little blood, stick someone in an MRI machine, then look at the information and say, “You suffer from clinical depression.”

Nope. That’s not how it works. At all.

Instead, clinicians have to ask questions, take the answers, and try and tease out the diagnosis. If they get it wrong, well…well, most of the time, not much happens. However, all it takes is one person to change everything.

While it’s easy for people to want to claim this is a uniquely American event, it’s not. Every country has mentally unbalanced people and those people may decide to kill a whole lot of people for whatever insane reason.

Let’s stop pretending it’s about the guns, for crying out loud and actually deal with it by addressing the causes of these crimes.

Hat tip: Active Response Training