Why is the US so much more violent than Europe?

While there may or may not be a link between kids who watch violent TV shows or movies or play violent video games, it still can’t explain why these events happen so much more often in the US than the rest of the world. If I was to go to the local movie theater, I would see pretty much the same list of films here in France that US viewers will have available. Same goes for TV shows and the same applies to video games.

While Fox News-loving Joe Lieberman is talking about needing to require regulations on the industry to tone down violence and Tom “I’d like to scare the daylights out of you with false terror warnings” Ridge is blaming violent video games, neither can explain how or why this is primarily a US problem. Because it is.

Here’s a map of the world with violent mass shootings. Yes, there have been plenty of problems around the world but you can’t help but notice the concentration of events in the US.

Mass Shootings around the world

Mass Shootings around the world

Every country has problems, but in the case of the US, There’s a sick gun fetish. Even worse, there is a large part of the political class that protects this illness. I’ve lived overseas for a long time and have traveled quite extensively across six continents so I can see how the US differs from other countries.

Even in South Africa, which also has a serious problem with violence, the number of mass shootings doesn’t compare to the US. There’s no shortage of violence there, but you generally don’t see individuals shooting hundreds of rounds of ammo in a few minutes and killing dozens of people.

Semi Automatic Rifles via Shutterstock

Semi Automatic Rifles via Shutterstock

Here in France, yes there is violence, but it’s so incredibly unusual to hear of a shooting death. I can walk the streets of Paris at night and not wonder if I’m going to be held up at gunpoint or be shot just because. While I may be afraid of bad drivers, I’m not afraid of being shot.

When I lived in Baltimore, I had to stop watching the nightly death report, also known as the 11PM news. I was always on guard and wondered about crazy people with guns. I’ve never liked the idea of hunting for myself, but have never cared about people owning hunting rifles, who actually hunt.

What is disturbing to me is the easy availability of guns like the one used by the Sandy Hook killer. Why does anyone need something like that? Certainly not for hunting. And who buys Kevlar jackets outside of police, military and crime gangs?

So let the right wing political class talk about violence in games and TV, but that does little to address the real problem. America has a sick illness when it comes to guns and there’s no way around that truth. Instead of worrying about dividing America on social issues that aren’t really issues, the conservative right ought to be a lot more concerned about the excessive violence on the streets, rather than violence on TV. American TVs and video games may be violent, but it pales in comparison to the real world gun violence every day, across the country.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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