Politifact is hardly a fan of the Second Amendment—we fact-checked their “fact check” on smart guns, and found them either incompetent or intentionally dishonest—but they still feel compelled to rip the Mom’s Demand/Everytown claim that there have been 74 mass shootings as “mostly false.” Sadly, even that isn’t the whole truth:
We reviewed news reports for all 74 shootings and did our best to sort them into five categories. Here’s our breakdown. (See individual shootings by category here, with clickable links to news reports on each shooting.)
• Incidents such as Sandy Hook or Columbine in which the shooter intended to commit mass murder: 10 instances
• Incidents related to criminal activity (such as drug dealing or robbery), or personal altercations: 39 instances
• Incidents unconnected to members of school community and/or that took place outside school hours: 16 instances
• Suicides: 6 instances
• Accidental discharges: 3 instances
In all, these 74 incidents resulted in 38 deaths and 53 injuries. The biggest death toll in one incident was a shooting spree that ended at Santa Monica College. Six people died, though not all of them took place on the campus.
While the list includes a lot of gunfire, deaths and injuries, only about 14 percent were shootings that mirrored Columbine and Sandy Hook.
In addition, almost half — 35 — occurred at a college or university rather than a K-12 school. This clashes with the imagery invoked by the line in the chart’s introduction, that “we should feel secure in sending our children to school — comforted by the knowledge that they’re safe.”
We asked James Fox, a criminology professor at Northeastern University, for some perspective. He pointed to the 2013 “Indicators of School Crime and Safety” report compiled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. There were about 45 school-associated violent deaths (not just by guns) at elementary and secondary schools each year between the 1992 and 2010 school years, according to the report. The highest annual total was 63 deaths in 2006-07, while the lowest was 31 in 2010-11.
In other words, Fox said, the number of gun deaths documented by Everytown over the past year and a half are not out of the ordinary. About 15 to 20 kids in grades K-12 are killed at school each year, along with a similar number of college students, he said.
Sadly, even Politifact is wrong. You’ll note that they give Moms Demand/Everytown “credit” possibly intended mass murder.
Intent is irrelevant. It’s results that matter, unless those intended victims think that being alive doesn’t count.
When factoring in actual results, only one killer out of the ten in Politifact’s “good enough” list managed to kill the four or more people which is the FBI standard for mass killings, and yet that killer, in the Santa Monica incident, is not a mass murderer but a spree killer, who killed two of his victims off campus and conducted his attack across multiple separate crime scenes.
The correct number of actual, real, successful mass shootings on a school campus since Sandy Hook is a different figure than even Politifact reports.
That’s a mighty long way from 74.