There’s been a claim that’s been repeated over and over again about how there are just so many school shootings. Anti-gunners love to argue that they’re so common today and we really, really need to do something about guns because of them. They can’t fathom any response to this epidemic–their word–other than strictly curtailing people’s access to firearms.
In their view, there’s at least one school shooting per day, and we simply have to do something right now. Of course, as noted previously, the only “doing something” they can imagine is restricting guns.
However, NPR of all people has found that the statistic they use to make this case is nothing more than smoke and mirrors.
How many times per year does a gun go off in an American school?
We should know. But we don’t.
This spring the U.S. Education Department reported that in the 2015-2016 school year, “nearly 240 schools … reported at least 1 incident involving a school-related shooting.” The number is far higher than most other estimates.
But NPR reached out to every one of those schools repeatedly over the course of three months and found that more than two-thirds of these reported incidents never happened. Child Trends, a nonpartisan nonprofit research organization, assisted NPR in analyzing data from the government’s Civil Rights Data Collection.
We were able to confirm just 11 reported incidents, either directly with schools or through media reports.
In 161 cases, schools or districts attested that no incident took place or couldn’t confirm one. In at least four cases, we found, something did happen, but it didn’t meet the government’s parameters for a shooting. About a quarter of schools didn’t respond to our inquiries.
“When we’re talking about such an important and rare event, [this] amount of data error could be very meaningful,” says Deborah Temkin, a researcher and program director at Child Trends.
Yeah, it means the claims that we’re inundated with school shootings is crap.
Of course, I suspect the primary reason this was investigated was that the stat in question came from the Trump administration’s Department of Education, but in the process, it debunked much of the anti-gunners’ claims about school shootings and how they’re supposedly so common.
In fact, their entire article is a slam on the Trump administration, but they’re so focused on slamming the White House that they missed how they hurt the narrative otherwise.
School shootings are rare events, even with numbers like 240 shootings, when you consider just how many schools there are in this country. When you find out that most of them never happened, it makes them even rarer.
They’re unicorn events that yes, do happen, but aren’t common enough to warrant making policy based on them. Instead, schools, where this is a problem, should step up their efforts on security and try to disrupt potential shooters by whatever means they can reasonably use. However, most schools simply don’t have a problem.
Further, consider that these numbers included any kind of shooting, not even a potential mass shooting. Gang activity and things of that sort are far more common in schools, and we now see even those kinds of shootings are rare.
In other words, maybe the anti-gunners will stop pretending our schools are some dangerous place where kids are just waiting to be shot.