In an interview with GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum on the December 1 edition of Hardball, MSNBC's Chris Matthews insisted that mass shootings don't happen "all over Europe." When an incredulous Santorum reminded Matthews about the November 13 Paris terrorist attacks, Matthews shot back that the Paris perpetrators were terrorists and not "locals."
Of course that is patently false as a number of the slain perpetrators were French or Belgian nationals.
Even leaving Paris aside, there is a recent history of mass shootings in European countries – all of which have more stringent gun-control licensing/registration laws than the United States. Indeed, back in June, the PolitiFact website, no darling of conservatives it, ranked as "mostly false" an assertion by President Obama that mass shootings are a peculiarly American phenomenon:
...it’s easy to dispense with the first claim Obama made -- that "this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries."
Over the decade and a half studied, the researchers found 23 incidents of mass shootings in the other 10 countries, resulting in 200 dead and 231 wounded. In the United States over the same period, there were 133 incidents that left 487 dead and 505 wounded.
Here are a just a few examples of mass shootings in other countries:
• On July 22, 2011, a total of 80 people were killed in Norway when Anders Behring Breivik, a political extremist, bombed a government building in Oslo and then went on a shooting rampage on the island of Utoya, just outside the city.
• On March 11, 2009, in Winnenden, Germany, a teenage gunman killed 15 people. The majority of the victims were children and teachers killed when the shooter opened fire in three classrooms in a local secondary school. The gunman shot two other people before killing himself after being cornered by the local police.
• On Sept. 23, 2008, in Kuahajoki, Finland, a gunman shot 10 people to death after opening fire on a classroom in the Kuahajoki School of Hospitality. After killing the students, the shooter burned the victims’ bodies.
In sum, then, Obama is wrong to say that "this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries." Clearly it does happen elsewhere, and not in trivial numbers. Seven of the countries saw double-digit numbers of people killed in mass shootings during that period.
Below you'll find the relevant transcript of Matthews's exchange with Santorum:
Video: Mass shootings don't happen in Europe; Paris was terrorism, not "locals" pic.twitter.com/fvKT6eNnaD— Ken Shepherd (@KenShepherd) December 2, 2015
December 1, 2015; 7:33 p.m. Eastern
CHRIS MATTHEWS: But do you think we'd have mass shootings if we didn't have guns? How would we have them? What would they be?
Former U.S. Senator RICK SANTORUM (R-Pa.): We have mass shootings in cities where guns are banned.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but they're not banned, really, because you can get a gun anywhere.
SANTORUM: Well, you can get a gun anywhere, you can get a gun anywhere in this country.
MATTHEWS: We don't have mass shootings all over Europe. We don't have mass –
SANTORUM: What do you mean?! We just had a mass shooting in Paris!
MATTHEWS: These are terrorist attacks, OK, but they're not locals.
SANTORUM: The bottom line. We just had two mass shootings –
MATTHEWS: America is a violent society because of guns.