There is one developed country—and only one—in which it is not only legal, but easy and convenient, to amass a private arsenal of mass slaughter. That country also happens to be the one—and the only one—regularly afflicted by mass slaughters perpetrated by aggrieved individuals.
You would not think that this is a complicated problem to puzzle out. Yet even as the casualties from gunfire mount, Americans express befuddlement, and compete to devise ever more far-fetched answers.
As far as anybody can ascertain, the deadliest mass shooter in American history had no specific political motive. Stephen Paddock apparently opened fire from a Las Vegas hotel room in October 2017, murdering 58 and wounding hundreds more, out of purely personal rage at the world.
The second-deadliest mass shooter, Omar Mateen, espoused Islamist loyalties in his final messages before he attacked a gay nightclub in Orlando in June 2016, killing 49 and wounding 53.
The third- and fourth-deadliest—the Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho and the Sandy Hook school shooter Adam Lanza—were both antisocial, and battled different mental-health issues. The fifth-deadliest—the Sutherland Springs church shooter—was a loudmouthed atheist. The El Paso, Texas, gunman ranks eighth; authorities are investigating whether he wrote a white-supremacist manifesto. The Islamic fanatics who killed at Fort Hood, also in Texas, in 2011 and San Bernardino, California, in 2015 are tied for 14th place.