How often mass shootings happen generally depends on how you define a mass shooting. Sure, no one is going to argue that the 2017 Las Vegas shooting qualifies. There’s going to be more disagreement about the UNLV shooting, though.
The issue of definitions is why the Gun Violence Archive will report hundreds of such shootings while Mother Jones has fewer than 20.
Generally, I tend to define them as a shooting with four or more fatalities not counting the gunman. Others just count the number shot.
And by some definitions, recent events in the Swiss town of Sion qualify.
Police have launched a manhunt after a shooter killed two people and injured a third after opening fire in a city in Switzerland.
Officers said they were still working to establish a motive for the shootings but that the suspect appeared to have known his victims.
Police said they had deployed officers to find the suspected shooter, and later issued an appeal for people to come forward with any information on a 36-year-old believed to be the gunman.
Switzerland has a pretty high gun ownership rate, particularly by European standards, but this sort of thing is still rare there. Pretty damning evidence that guns don’t cause this sort of thing, though this kind of punctures that argument a bit right here and now.
It’s still true–after all, how often we we see Swiss shootings like this–but it’s going to be harder to convince people just this second.
Now, do I consider this a mass shooting? No. Two dead is a tragedy no matter how you label it, but with only one other person shot, this doesn’t count. Yet let’s also acknowledge that every indication is that the only reason this isn’t a mass shooting is because the shooter wasn’t a particularly good marksman. That’s a good thing, obviously, but he tried to shoot more people, it seems.
Interestingly, while Swiss gun ownership is pretty high, Switzerland was pressured by the European Union to strengthen its gun control laws not all that long ago. This was in response to terrorist attacks in Paris where guns were used to kill more than 150 people.
And yet, it’s pretty clear that those rules did nothing to prevent this from happening there. Absolutely nothing.
Granted, we don’t know much about what happened in Switzerland right now. We don’t know how this individual got his gun or even what kind of gun. I’m sure we’ll get to that in time, but for right now, there are still a ton of questions to be answered.
But it’s important for Americans to remember that we don’t hold a monopoly on awful people doing awful things. This isn’t “uniquely American” as some people try to claim. It happens elsewhere.