There is a trending series of articles that will undoubtedly trend in the wake of the shooting in Florida. It had been reported in a lot of publications that eighteen school shootings have occurred this year. Digging through the methodology done by Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control advocacy group who supplied the statistics used by the news outlets, either six or seven school shootings have occurred this year, using a stricter definition of what a school shooting is.
According to an article in USA Today, which explains the discrepancy, “That data point … includes any discharge of a firearm at a school — including accidents — as a ‘shooting.’ It also includes incidents that happened to take place at a school, whether students were involved or not.”
Of course, conservatives, especially on Fox News, are shouting to the rooftops that this a perfect example of the liberal controlled media throwing out fake news.
I can’t just paper over the fact that this organization got the facts incredibly wrong by placing some incidents as a school shooting that clearly weren’t. What makes me angry with the right wing somewhat gleeful reaction to the numbers is the fact there were six of seven confirmed, no doubt about it, school shootings. Breaking it down, by the narrowed criteria, there has been a school shooting at least once a week this year which resulted in deaths or injuries. With the narrow definition, the new numbers exclude discharges of weapons on school campuses, which in the number count would make another eight instances. Two incidences in the original 18 were suicides.
UPDATE – A few hours after getting this written down, there were reports of gunfire at Highline College in Washington state. There are multiple agencies in the surrounding areas assisting and they are clear to state nothing has been confirmed. It has been confirmed a few hours later it was fireworks.
So, this particular incident was a false alarm, but looking at what happened there were multiple agencies that were called out to investigate the incident, the school was on lockdown and for a few hours, a lot of college students wee shaken by the idea of possible gunfire on campus. Of course, most will be relieved it was nothing but fireworks and will be able to push aside the frayed nerves and shaken emotions. They may be able to laugh about it, maybe make it part of some boring yet kind of dramatic story sometime in the future.
The sad thing I’m taking away from this incident will be the alert will be considered routine. Yes, I understand it was a false alarm, but I go back to those statistics that were sited by the Everytown group. They had incidents recorded of guns being fired on campus, but because no one was hurt, it is now considered questionable research and are discounted from the numbers. Two completed suicides are on that list. Because the deaths were self-inflicted, they are questionable results. Also, remember that what was looked at by the Everytown group were incidents of guns being used on campus, not the confiscation of guns by school officials.
From what I see, the underlying numbers, with the inclusion of non-lethal discharges and confiscations of guns on campus, makes for a potential dangerous opportunity for gun violence on campus. Furthermore, such as the incident in Washington state, the mere possibility of an active shooter on campus can be traumatic to a lot of individuals.