After a gunman kills at least six and wounds dozens at Perm State University in Russia, we take a look around the world at other countries that have faced similar shooting sprees on school grounds outside of the United States.
We think of school shootings as a uniquely American malady. Statistics seem to overwhelmingly support this view: a 2018 CNN report estimated that the U.S. had 57 times as many school shootings as the other G7 nations combined, with an average of one attack a week. And though the past two years have seen a drop in massacres on school grounds, as the pandemic forced the education world to move online, a recent Washington Post article notes that as classrooms reopen, gun violence is again soaring at the nation's primary and secondary schools. According to the Everytown for Gun Safety nonprofit, there were at least 43 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, resulting in 12 deaths and 19 injuries nationally since the beginning of the year.
Still, the rest of the world is not immune to the phenomenon, as we are reminded by the developing story in Russia (where a gunman, said to be a former student, opened fire at a university in the city of Perm, killing at least eight people). Is this global spread of these senseless shootings associated with the influence of American culture, media coverage and social media, inspiring copycats to commit similar crimes? Are school shootings linkable to places with lax gun-control laws? While research on this phenomenon continues, we take a look at places around the world that have grappled with comparable tragedies in recent years.
Memorial in honor of the victims of the May 11, 2021 Kazan school shooting — Photo: Yegor Aleyev/TASS/ZUMA
Where: Gymnasia No. 175 in Kazan, east of Moscow
When: May 11, 2021
Casualties: 9Earlier this year, Russia already mourned the killing of seven children and two adults, when Ilnaz Galyaviev, a 19-year-old former student, opened fire and detonated an explosive device at a school in Kazan before being apprehended by police forces. According to Russian daily Kommersant, the shooter was motivated by a desire to demonstrate his "superiority," having posted on the Telegram platform on the morning of the attack: "Today I will kill a huge amount of biowaste." On May 12, he pleaded guilty to multiple murder. Although this type of attack is relatively rare in Russia, owing to strict gun ownership regulations, the shooting prompted President Vladimir Putin to order a revision of the country's gun control laws.
Entrance to the Professor Raul Brasil State School in Suzano — Photo: Julien Pereira/Fotoarena/ZUMA
Where: Professor Raul Brasil State School in Suzano, near São Paulo
When: March 13, 2019
Casualties: 10, including the two perpetrators
Using a short-frame revolver, a composite bow, crossbow, hatchet and molotov cocktail, 17-year-old Guilherme Taucci Monteiro and 25-year-old Luiz Henrique de Castro, both former students at the Suzano school, killed five students and two school employees before committing suicide. As reported by O Globo daily, prior to the attack, the duo had also killed Monteiro's uncle. According to Reuters, the pair had been inspired by the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in the U.S. state of Colorado, in which Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 12 fellow students and one teacher.
Flowers in front of the La Loche community school on Feb. 2, 2016 — Photo: Kayoty
Where: La Loche Community School in Canada's Sakatchewan province
When: January 22, 2016
Canada has a lot of guns — an estimated 35 per 100 residents, according to Bloomberg numbers, but the U.S.'s northern neighbor also has a lot of rules and regulations in place, including a strict gun-license process. Still, the country is no stranger to shootings on school grounds, the deadliest of which happened at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989 when a man who failed to qualify for entry at the university opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle, targeting female students. All 14 of the victims killed were women. More recently, western Canada was left in shock after a 17-year-old identified as Randan Dakota Fontaine, went on a shooting spree in La Loche — killing two people at their home, before targeting the La Loche Community School where he killed a teacher and an educational assistant. He was later apprehended and placed in custody. According to the Toronto Star, Fontaine had been bullied at school for his appearance. The Saskatoon Star Phoenix also reported on the following exchange on social media before the shooter entered the school grounds: "Just killed 2 ppl. Bout to shoot up the school."
Still from CCTV footage of the Chenpeng Village Primary School attack — Source: CNN
Where: Chenpeng Village Primary School
When: December 14, 2012
Casualties: 24 injured
Gun control laws in China rank among the strictest in the world, making firearms extremely hard to come by — which leads perpetrators to turn to other weapons. In the past two decades, the country has been struggling to stem a spate of mass stabbings and knife attacks targeting schools.
In 2012, 36-year-old Min Yongjun stabbed 24 people with a kitchen knife, including 23 children and an elderly woman, at the Chenpeng Village Primary School in the Henan Province, according to the South China Morning Post.
The Chenpeng school attack was followed, only hours later, by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in the U.S., drawing comparisons between the two — particularly when it comes to the disparity in casualties in light of the two countries' respective stance on gun control: All victims in the Chenpeng attack survived, while the deadliest mass shooting at an elementary school in U.S. history left 28 dead.
As the New York Times noted, analysts have blamed the epidemic of stabbings in China on mental health problems caused by a rapidly changing society, in a country where the stigma surrounding mental illnesses is still strong, and mental health care is harder to access in small villages. In June, British medical journal BMC Psychiatry estimated that 91% of China's 173 million Chinese adults suffering from mental problems never received professional help.