‘Once Again, America Learns Nothing’: the World Media Reacts to the Oregon Massacre

The international press agrees that U.S. gun culture is scary, senseless.

<> on May 4, 2013 in Houston, Texas.
<> on May 4, 2013 in Houston, Texas.

In the aftermath of Thursday’s massacre at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon, President Barack Obama lamented that the United States has “become numb” to the seemingly endless number of mass shootings in the country. That wasn’t the case overseas, where the killings prompted the international press to wonder, again, why the United States has so many shootings and is so unwilling to take serious steps to stop them.

Below, a roundup of news coverage of the Oregon shooting from around the world:

Spiegel Online, Germany: The website for a mainstream weekly magazine, Der Spiegel, headlined its article: “Massacre at a U.S. College in Oregon: Once again, America learns nothing.” The article emphasized the numbing repetitiveness of all of this, referring to Obama’s speech as “another speech that will change nothing.” It goes on: “This routine, almost a ritual, begins at the moment that ‘Breaking News’ flickers across the screen. ‘Active shooter,’ that’s what they call it here — a term that has become common, and for which there’s no translation from the American. The ritual has its own vocabulary.”

Sydney Morning Herald, Australia: In a scathing editorial, Michael Pascoe, a contributing editor, responded to Obama’s comparison of the United States to Australia, where strict gun laws were enacted in 1996 after a mass shooting that killed 35. “The [U.S.] is too immature a society to be allowed to play with guns. It has never shed its Wild West mythology.”

El País, Spain: In a leading daily newspaper in Spain, El País reporter Pablo Ximénez de Sandoval wrote: “In U.S. educational institutions, having memorized the protocol to follow during a shooting is as normal as knowing the fire evacuation routes.” Later in the article he said, “No one seemed to question anything about the guns here [in Roseburg]. Jodie Jodyitckowitc was born in Roseburg and has lived here almost all her life. Thursday night she went to the vigil with her three sons. ‘I tell them to live every day of their lives as if it were the last. You never know.’”

Pakistan Today, Pakistan: In a brief article, the English-language paper in Pakistan, which suffered through a school massacre of its own at the hands of the Taliban earlier this year, said the attack showed that “school shootings are a disturbing reality of American life and many facilities have reinforced security in recent years, especially in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012.”

Channel One, Russia: Russia’s main state broadcaster published a report on Thursday headlined: “Shooting in Oregon by 26-year-old who wanted to be famous.” The piece focused heavily on Obama’s inability to reform lax U.S. gun laws. The report described Obama as “angry and powerless” about the current state of gun violence and a lack of will to reform what appears to be a broken system.

Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images

Correction, Oct. 3, 2015: El País is a leading daily newspaper in Spain. A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the newspaper was based in Argentina. 

Megan Alpert is a fellow at Foreign Policy. Her previous bylines have included The Guardian, Guernica Daily, and Earth Island Journal. Twitter: @megan_alpert

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