School Shootings in Italy Do Not Exist

According to a recent CNN article published on May 18, 2018, school shootings have occurred in the United States on average of once per week this year alone.  How many school shootings have taken place in Italy this year?  Well, if you refer to the small town of Italy, Texas (near Dallas), with a population of about 1,800 inhabitants, then the answer is ONE.  But if you refer to Italy as a country, with a population of about 60,600,000 inhabitants, then the answer is ZERO.  And in prior years?  According to another CNN article published on May 21, 2018, there have been 288 school shootings in the United States since 2009.  In Italy (the country), however, none have been identified.

Maurizio and Marco
Marco Cintelli and Maurizio Fulignati, Italian expert sniper shooters and members of the Italian shooting team known as Ultima Lorica

An evaluation of the cultural differences between Italy and the United States can help understand the polarity between the two countries when it comes to such a violent epidemic that has not been made manifest in Italy, and hopefully never will.  The two most common viewpoints in explaining the difference are: i) Italy’s strict gun control policies; and ii) Italian mentality.

In preparation for this post, I spoke with my dear Italian friend, firearm enthusiast, and professional sniper, Maurizio Fulignati.  Fulignati lives in Tuscany, and is a member of the right-wing fraternal organization and shooting team known as Ultima Lorica.  According to Fulignati, in order to own a gun in Italy, citizens must first apply for a gun permit through the police department, where a criminal background check is conducted.  With the application, a doctor’s statement must be submitted indicating that the applicant is not mentally ill, or suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction.

If a permit is issued, the Italian citizen can then purchase a gun, but must declare to the police the specific gun purchased, and the location the gun will be stored.  Even if an Italian individual then sells the firearm to a friend in a private sale, for example, reporting the transfer to the police is still required.  There is also a legal limit on the amount of ammunition a citizen can purchase, and carrying a gun in public is illegal (with few exceptions).  According to Fulignati, who has purchased guns both in Italy and the United States, the process in Italy is more difficult and time-consuming.  “In Miami, I was able to purchase a gun within 3 days, wheres in Italy, the process usually takes about 3 months,” Fulignati said.

“Italians do not have a constitutional right to bear arms like Americans do,” said Fulignati.  “The use of guns in America is more familiar to everyone because of its heritage, and guns are available for purchase with relative ease.  But I believe the problem in America is not only about the ever-presence of firearms in American society.  America is a more integrated country than Italy, so more people from more countries are living together and that in my honest opinion brings more contrast, violence, and hostility between people with different religions, customs, habits, etc.”

Fulignati, as a gun owner, is certainly a minority in Italy.  According to a Wikipedia article estimating guns per capita, for every 100 civilians in the United States, there are 101 guns.  In Italy, on the other hand, for every 100 civilians, there are 11.9 guns.

For non-firearm owners in Italy, I’ve found the common opinion on Italy’s lack of school gun violence attributed to the proverb “out of sight, out of mind.”  Several Italians I spoke with believed that guns were completely illegal to own in Italy (which is not true), and others recognized that they could be used for hunting, but could not even begin to tell me where a gun could be purchased.  It seems like since guns are not an integral part of Italian civilian heritage, people kind of just forget about them.

Military Vest
Me wearing one of Fulignati's Italian military vests in Tuscany, July, 2017

Barbara Ruffoni, a reader of the Italian Enthusiast, and resident of Piemonte, Italy, expressed the sentiment that I think is shared among most Italians.  She said, “I never met somebody who possessed a gun.  Never heard about it.  Obviously criminals have guns they buy on the black market.  We have a couple of shops in the big cities for the hunters but that’s all.”  For Barbara, the reality that guns are available in the US online, in department stores, pawn shops, trade shows, fairs, sporting good stores, etc., is just outrageous.

Earlier this year I sat next to a Sicilian law professor on my flight from Rome to Miami.  I asked whether, in his opinion, there would be gun violence in schools if guns were acquirable with more ease in Italy.  “No,” he said.  “When Italian students hear about a school shooting in America, they think it is so strange because they could never fathom that such an act could even be a possibility.  For them, in the culture they live, the possibility has never entered their brains.”

I understand all points of view.  However, in my opinion, I think the first thing America should do is change the way it makes firearms available, and create a stricter application process.  I agree that when the founding fathers of the United States wrote the second amendment, they had muskets in mind, not semi-automatic rifles.  Italian culture and its laws should be explored more and used by the United States as a model.  Something is not working with American gun control, and sometimes the best way to fix a problem, is to follow the lead of a superior country, and when it comes to school safety, educating our children in Italian schools is a far safer option.

Please share your comments, beliefs or suggestions in the comments below, or on Facebook.  Please share with your friends to get their input as well.


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Comments

  1. Joyia Federigo : May 23, 2018 at 8:32 am

    Italians don’t hand out Ritilan like candy. Lack of control of drugs in these kids is very bad and sad. That 2 amendment was to protect the citizen from the government which could do a lot more to protect the kids school. Going to have to treat them like other places for security . Metal detectors.At entrance and exits. And it better be done by next school session. And a few prays could help in school too!

  2. Marinelly C. : May 23, 2018 at 8:52 am

    In addition to the points made on your post I think it is important to highlight the Italian way of life. The manner in which children are raised, the importance of family and human connection. The little time I’ve spent in Italy, I observed how connected people are. In the USA many people live with very little human contact. I don’t mean they are reclusive but greeting someone on the streets is scarce, kids get home from school straight to their room and sit down family dinners are becoming less common. All these factors are important in identifying early signs of mental health issues or I will dare say stopping these issues from ever arising.

    I am American but family is hispanic so I was raised within a home meshed both cultures beautifully. My love for Italy began simultaneous with my love for soccer in 1994 when the World Cup was played in the US. I was in middle school in Florida. I decided to take Italian Language that year. One afternoon Signora Miliani had us watch a match during class. I saw Roberto Baggio play and I became an Italian National Team fan for life.

    Great and important post btw!

    • I was born in Italy and came to the US at age 5 with my family. We then moved back when I was 16 years old and I lived there for 2 years with my mother and my sister attending my last year of high school in Italy.I found that the schools operated much differently. The first thing I noticed is students social behavior was much more at the center of the curriculum then here in the United States. They considered social etiquette and people skills just as important as the other academic subjects to be studied.

  3. I’m Italian, my husband owns a big gun in Italy, but he NEVER used it, and he keeps it well hidden where nobody else, excep him, may find it, me neither. Here in the Usa we went shooting for fun at a Sport Shooting Center for a couple of times. At least I learned how to handle a gun and how to peoperly use it.

  4. James Siciliano : May 23, 2018 at 1:43 pm

    Anthony, here are two key factors that differentia current U.S. culture from that of Italy:1) the Italian family structure is very much intact. In general, both Fathers and Mothers are present in the household. In the U.S., the family structure is crumbling – children have a lack of structure and in many cases no discipline. 2) The value of life has become cheap to many in the U.S. In Italy, while abortions are legal, they are highly restricted. When children grow up being told that terminating life in the womb is acceptable (as well as selling body parts from fetuses for research, as Planned Parenthood does), it cheapens the value of life. Additionally, let’s add unsupervised exposure to violent video games and movies.

    For over seventy years, semiautomatic firearms – including surplus WW2 M1 Carbines with high capacity magazines – were readily available to U.S. citizens. Yet, the mass shootings that we see today never existed prior to the last two decades – with it becoming more prevalent in the last decade. What has changed? The answer is American culture and values. Since the mid 1960s, the radical left has waged a culture war in the U.S. that has led to social engineering and a decline in traditional values. While, Italy has experienced upheaval driven by the radical left, it’s family structure has endured.

  5. Marinelly C. Is correct in the matter of family and respect for others. Growing up, teenagers had access to guns for hunting, sometimes brought them to school and there were no school shooting. The breakdown of the traditional family, values, and failure of the mental health system are all contributing factors. Legal guns sales are regulated and restricted to those with criminal or involuntary mental health commitments. School shooters violate laws even before they pull the trigger. What sane person would blame responsible gun owners for a criminal or mental health problem.

  6. John Starks : May 23, 2018 at 7:44 pm

    You make some valid points and your reasoning is cogent. However, as Marvin Gaye once said, “Mother, mother, there’s too many of you crying. Brother, brother, brother, there’s far too many of you dying. You know we’ve got to find a way to bring some loving here today.” Now, name for me an Italian song with a comparably iconic lyric. I’ll wait…

  7. It’s all about money and greed. Gun manufacturers and gun sales and distribution businesses lobby forcefully. That’s why laws will be difficult if not impossible to change.

  8. Joanne Maloney : May 26, 2018 at 2:05 am

    Italy is now a multicultural society, and still no gun violence. I agree with your analysis of gun control regulations, and also of the Italian mentality… but I do NOT think multicultural automatically means more violence…
    Italy is, difatto, a multicultural society now.

  9. I agree multicultural is not the main problem, out of 288 school shootings, think of that 228 school shootings since 2009, the percentage of non white criminal is minimal..its all about greed. Its all about availability.

  10. I agree a lot with the above. Traditional family values, the importance of life and I think the internet has changed American culture. Since so many families or young people are disconnected in America, they could be spending a lot of time online. Anything can happen online, good or bad. I think it’s terrible that there are videos uploaded now of people getting hurt or abused. Ive also noticed that many, but not all young Americans, are highly impressionable and listen to whatever they hear on television or is endorsed by celebrities. Lastly, gun violence is constantly bombarding the news. It could give other young people ideas.

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