If Stephen Paddock – the killer of Las Vegas – was trying to enter in the Guinness book of records for the worst massacres committed with firearms, we can speak of a mission failed. The massacre of the Mandala Bay actually lies in third place in the ranking of the last 30 years for the number of victims (59). The most serious continues to be the massacre of Paris on 13 November 2015, that claimed the lives of 137 people, of whom 128 were killed during the shooting.
While remaining at the top of the top 10 massacres perpetrated with the help of rifles, assault rifle and guns, the one perpetrated by Isis in the French capital is, however, the only one attributable to the terrorism of jihadist matrix, which more than willingly uses explosives (we think about the attacks of Brussels of 2016) or non-conventional weapons (such as cars, vans and trucks). The first interesting fact that emerges from the ranking is therefore the one linked to the authors of the massacres: they are almost always common men who have acted with weapons owned by virtue of their profession (policemen, ex-soldiers etc.) or thanks to a law that is particularly soft, as the American one.
The American case
The United States has been the theatre of 6 of the 10 most serious massacres in the last thirty years, for a total of 210 dead. A fact on which the administration Trump is called to reflect on, with good peace of the II amendment and of the National Rifle Association, the powerful lobby of weapons that exerts a direct influence on US policy but with keeping a particular eye towards the Republican Party.
Let us now come down to the details of the ranking, by reconstructing the 10 worst massacres committed as a result of shootings from 1984 to today.
1 – The attacks of Paris (128 dead)
They represent the most serious terrorist attack ever made in Europe. On 13 November 2015, a jihadist commando of Isis composed by at least 10 people struck almost simultaneously in the I, X and XI district of Paris and in the district of Saint-Denis. Three explosions were concentrated near the French stadium, where a friendly football match between France-Germany was taking place, while a fourth occurred in Boulevard Voltaire (centre). The explosives provoked 5 dead (a civil and 4 kamikazes). The greatest number of victims (128) was caused by the shooting. The bloodiest one occurred inside the Bataclan theatre where there was a concert of an American rock band. 93 people were killed.
2 – The carnage of Breivik (69 dead)
On 22 July 2011 the explosion of a car bomb in the district of Regjeringskvartalet, in Oslo, caused the death of 8 people and injured 209. Two hours after the extremist Anders Breivik Behring, camouflaged as a policeman and with fake documents, reached the island of Utøya, in Tyrifjorden, where a youth campus of the Norwegian EPLP was taking place, with the excuse of searching for bombs. After having eliminated the managers of the camp with a gun Glock, Breivik moved towards the group of young people between 12 and 20 years gathered in a refreshment point, and he deliberately shot them with an automatic rifle. The victims on the island were 69. When the police arrived the killer spontaneously surrendered. Subsequently he revealed that the attack represented a “strong message to the people, to stop the damage of the Labour Party” and to put an end to “the deconstruction of the Norwegian culture due to mass immigration of Muslims”.
3 – Las Vegas (59 dead)
On 1 October 2017, the 64 years old pensioner Stephen Paddock (without criminal records) started shooting from his room of the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas at the crowd that was attending the Route 91 Harverst Festival, killing 59 people. When the police arrived, the man committed suicide. The authorities are still investigating the reason of the massacre. According to his brother Eric, Paddock was “a multimillionaire investor who had made a fortune in the real estate sector”.
4 – The massacre of Uiryeong (56 dead)
It was perpetrated between 26 and 27 April 1982 by a South Korean policeman and former soldier Woo bum-kon with a series of attacks in the county of Uiryeong. The first took place in a post office, where he killed 4 people. Subsequently he launched a grenade and opened fire on people in the market of Torongni. In the evening of the same day he assaulted a liquor store, killing the owner and a young man taken as a hostage. Then he killed two entire families from the village of Pyongchon-Ni. Followed by other massacres. The last one was in the early hours of the morning on 27 April. After leaving on the ground 56 people, Woom took his own life. His girlfriend (beaten up by his companion before the massacre) revealed that Woom “was suffering of inferiority complex and was annoyed by the gossip of his fellow villagers on our relationship”. The massacre of Uiryeong provoked a political earthquake that led to the resignation, among others, of the Interior Minister and of the head of the South Korean police.
5 – The tragedy of the Pulse Club (49 dead)
Around 02:02 am on 12 June 2016, inside the renowned gay club Pulse of Orlando, a man armed with a semiautomatic rifle Sig Sauer Mcx and with a semi-automatic pistol Glock 17, after having passed the checks at the entrance of the pub, opened fire on the crowd on the dance floor. The killer was a white man, of Afghan origin, identified as Omar Mateen. After barricading himself in the club and having taken as hostage the survivors, he called 911 and swore fidelity to Isis. The matrix of the attack, however, according to the police would not be terrorist but homophobic. Shortly after 5am, agents of the Orlando Police District, after entering the night club and making their way through the corpses, shot Mateen, killing him. The mass murder claimed the lives of 49 people.
6 – Port Arthur (35 dead)
Between the 28 and 29 April 1996, Martin Bryant, originating in a suburb of Hobart, killed with a firearm 35 people and wounded 21 others in various places in the town of Port Arthur in Australia. On the morning of 28 April, Bryant entered the “Broad Arrow Cafe“, a self-service restaurant full of tourists, drew out a semiautomatic rifle from a tennis bag and started to fire, killing 20 people. Subsequently he opened fire against the crowd in queue in front of the entrance of a former prison converted into a museum. The last act of the carnage took place in a cottage, where the killer had barricaded himself taking the elderly owners as hostage. Despite the presence of 200 special agents, at 08.30 the next day, Bryant set the villa on fire before exiting and surrendering to the forces of order.
7 – The massacre of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute (32 dead)
It was perpetrated on 16 April 2007, by a South Korean student Cho Seung-hui who after took his life inside the Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg. The young boy (23 years) had grown up in Centerville, a suburb of Washington, where he moved together with his family in 1992, at the age of eight years. He was a green card holder and was living inside the campus – in Harper Hall – and he was attending the fourth and last year of the Faculty of English. In two separate shootings Seung-hui killed a total of 32 people, between students, professors and employees of the institute.
8 – The Sandy Hook Elementary School (27 dead)
Five years later another school, this time elementary, was the scene of a massacre. After killing his mother and having stolen the weapons she legally held, Adam Lanza (20 years) went with a car in front of the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown (Connecticut) and, once entered, started to shoot causing the death of 27 people, 20 of whom were children between the ages of 6 and 7 years. Even Lanza committed suicide before the arrival of the police.
9 – The shooting of Luby’s (23 dead)
On 16 October 1991, the 35 years old George Hennard, an unemployed former employee of the merchant navy, misogynous and xenophobic broke in with his van Ford Ranger 1981 inside the restaurant Luby’s of Killeen in Texas. He descended from the van and began to scream: “All the women of Killen and Belton are serpents. This is for what you have done to me and my family! This is for what you have done to Bell County! And now it is time to pay back”. Then he opened fire on the managers and staff with a Glock 17 and a Ruger P89. Before committing suicide, he killed 23 people.
10 – Blood at McDonald’s (21 dead)
On 18 July 1984, James Huberty, a 42 years old man, that claimed to be suffering from mental disorders but was not taken seriously by the psychiatric clinic he attended, assaulted a McDonald’s in the district of San Ysidro in San Diego (California). The attack lasted a little more than an hour and took the lives of 22 people. Around 17.17, Huberty was killed by a bullet on his neck, fired by a Swat sniper stationed on the roof of a post office, located near the fast food.