Mr. Sensitivity: At Paris News Conference, Obama Says Mass Shootings Only Happen In America
Matt Vespa  | December 01, 2015

President Obama held a news conference in Paris, where he was asked about the recent shooting at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“I mean, I say this every time we’ve got one of these mass shootings; this just doesn’t happen in other countries,” Mr. Sensitivity said in a city that just witnessed horrific mass shooting at the hands of ISIS that left 130 people dead. He added that the U.S. devotes “enormous resources” in preventing terrorist attacks at home and abroad. Of course, that’s a mutual interest we share with our allies. The president added, “We have the power to do more to prevent what is just a regular process of gun homicides.”

First, there is “no regular process of gun homicides.” Overall, they’ve gone down 3.9 percent from last year. Depending on the source, Bureau of Justice Statistics, which is part of the DOJ, noted that firearm-related homicides have dropped 39 percent between 1993-2010. Pew Research noted that gun homicides dropped 49 percent between 1993-2010. Either way, the trend is the same: gun violence is down, along with “nonfatal gun victimizations.” There is no gun violence epidemic.

Second, was the president alluding that the Planned Parenthood shooting and the Paris attacks were both terrorist acts? We do not know if the Planned Parenthood shooting was an act of domestic terrorism. Law enforcement officials still haven’t pinpointed a motive, whereas ISIS specifically said their attack on Paris was due to France’s intervention in Syria and insulting the prophet Muhammad. They also called the city “the capital of abomination and perversion.” These are political aims, in which violence was used to influence the wider audience by targeting innocent civilians to possibly achieve those goals. Terrorism could come in the form of mass shootings, but not all mass shootings are acts of terrorism. Moms Demand Action seems to have a problem differentiating between the two. 

After the Charleston shooting that left nine people dead this past summer, the president once again mentioned that this sort of violence only occurs in America.

“But let’s be clear: At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency,” he said. Kyle Becker of the Independent Journal was able to find a chart on mass shootings from members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). While the website is now defunct, he was able to obtain a screenshot:

The bottom line: The United States falls from number one due to its frequency of 38 mass shootings from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2013 (which would be number one without correcting for population) to number seven.

Becker also cited Security Magazine, which commented on the OECD chart:

Between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2013,there were 413 fatalities from mass shootings in the 34 member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). From the five-year period of 2008-2012, there were 373 total spree shooting fatalities.

According to the OECD’s latest version of the Rampage Shooting Index, a pair of deadly shootings in Switzerland in early 2013 pushed the U.S. out of the top five OECD nations for the most per capita fatalities, but the U.S. continues to have the most rampage shooting deaths (one reason could be its size – The U.S. population accounts for 25 percent of the OECD total). However, the U.S. saw a drop in mass shooting deaths from 93 in 2012 to 68 in 2013.

“Another thing one might note: The top 5 countries for mass shootings per capita all have “restrictive” gun policies,” wrote Becker.

So, mass shootings do happen in places other than the United States, Mr. President. You’re at the site of one of them, with the horrid bonus of it also serving as a scar of international terrorism, despite your absurd declaration that ISIS was “contained.” To say otherwise (regarding the comment on mass shootings and ISIS), is either willful ignorance or gross insensitivity.

The president is in Paris for a UN conference on climate change

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