Alongside the horror and condolences, there was a familiar sense of bewilderment from around the world: How can the richest superpower tolerate mass shootings — school shootings, even if they are on a scale that dwarfs any other country?
Tuesday's elementary school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, was viewed internationally as the latest in a long list of domestic American bloodshed that is increasingly hard to fathom from the outside.
Pope Francis called for the United States to end the indiscriminate sale of guns so that tragedies like this can't happen again. Emmanuel Macron, French President, said he shared the rage of Americans who are fighting to end the violence. Spain's prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, tweeted: This everyday horror must stop in the U.S. The shooting seemed hard to comprehend for many in Ukraine. The killing of children to gun violence in peaceful time is a tragedy beyond understanding, said Oksana Markarova, the country's ambassador in Washington.
It is not just America's friends, of course.
China deflected criticism of its own human rights record, bolstering its narrative that the U.S. is a superpower in decline. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Wang Wenbin told a daily briefing Wednesday that the U.S. is beset by the most serious gun violence and social discrimination. He said it was unacceptable that no substantive measures were taken to address these problems. The United States has more gun ownership than any other country in the world in terms of gun ownership, gun-related homicides and public mass shootings. It has 120 firearms per 100 people - more than twice as many per capita than war-torn Yemen, the next highest country on the list.
According to a 2015 study by Adam Lankford, professor of criminal justice at the University of Alabama, the US made up 31 percent of all public mass shootings between 1966 and 2012, despite having 4 percent of the world's population.
When he speaks with academics abroad, they all ask him a similar question about the U.S. This is an obviously terrible and tragic problem and seems to have an obvious solution - why can't they figure this out? Lankford spoke to NBC News by phone Wednesday. Why do Americans love guns so much? Why are they willing to let children die rather than give them up? Other nations have suffered devastating mass shootings, like the one in Uvalde on Tuesday, but those examples don't have unique stains on places that were galvanized into action.
The 1997 Dunblane school shooting in Scotland was met with a British legislation banning the ownership of most handguns. Automatic and semi-automatic rifles were already outlawed, and every British gun owner has to apply for a license.
While it continues to struggle with knife crime, the U.K. hasn't suffered a mass school shooting since.
Ian Blackford, a senior lawmaker with the Scottish National Party, referenced Dunblane in Parliament on Wednesday when he asked American lawmakers to act to bring the scourge of gun violence that plagues the United States to an end.