In 2000, the rate at which people were robbed or assaulted was higher in England, Scotland, Finland, Poland, Denmark and Sweden than it was in the United States. The assault rate in England was twice that in the United States. In the decade since England banned all private possession of handguns, the BBC reported that the number of gun crimes has gone up sharply.
Some of the worst examples of mass gun violence have also occurred in Europe. In recent years, 17 students and teachers were killed by a shooter in one incident at a German public school; 14 legislators were shot to death in Switzerland, and eight city council members were shot to death near Paris. The main lesson that should emerge from the Virginia Tech killings is that we need to work harder to identify and cope with dangerously unstable personalities.It is a problem for Europeans as well as Americans, one for which there are no easy solutions — such as passing more gun control laws.