California police said that Syed Rizwan Farook, a 28-year-old county health worker born in Chicago, and Tashfeen Malik, his 27-year-old wife from Pakistan, killed at least 14 people after spraying bullets at a party for county workers. The two suspects were later killed in a shootout with police.
Writing on the Times of London Web site, Leanora Munn described her initial reaction: “Apalling [sic] that my first thought was: Oh, it's America.”
But while the tragic events may fail to surprise foreigners -- one group lists 355 "mass shootings" in the U.S. since the beginning of 2015, according to its definitions -- they were viewed with heartache and given wide coverage in Britain, a country that effectively banned handguns in the 90s following a mass shooting at an elementary school in Scotland.
Several British newspapers carried a live blog of events as they unfolded. The Times of London and the Irish Times ran the story on their front pages.
In Dawn, the biggest English-language newspaper in Pakistan, one of the most-read stories on Friday was: “California killing: Female assailant was from Pakistan, CAIR claims”
In Britain’s Independent newspaper, Hanna Yusuf remarked on how quick the suspects’ religious identity came to dominate the discussion of the attack, pointing to the New York Post’s controversial headline “MUSLIM KILLERS” that appeared on its front page.
“It seems that a crime committed by someone who is perceived to be Muslim is without a doubt an act of terror, whereas a white shooter would be deemed a lone wolf who had underlying mental health issues,” she wrote.
The shootings on Wednesday also highlighted how America’s gun culture baffles many foreigners.
In its editorial entitled “Another day, another slaughter,” the Irish Times said it was dumbfounded that so little was being done to reverse the tide of deadly violence and that “for all too many, the response to another mass killing is simply to go out and buy more guns.”
“The rest of the world looks on with utter bewilderment,” the paper said.