USA Today actually frames scope of mass shootings correctly

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

When it comes to framing the discussion around mass shootings, USA Today has a, well, let’s call it a spotty track record. After all, they’re the same ones who thought the chainsaw bayonet was an actual, common thing that people attach to their AR-15s.


That doesn’t help their credibility in the least.

Yet it seems they’re trying to do better. For example, a recent story actually gets a few things right with regard to the awful tragedy of children being killed by gunshots. Basically, school shootings aren’t as big of an issue as many think.

More than two-thirds of parents worry a shooting could happen at their children’s school, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. But home is a far more dangerous place for kids.

In the five years ending in 2022, at least 866 kids ages 17 and younger were shot in domestic violence incidents, according to an analysis by The Trace of data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive; 621 of them died. In that same time frame, 268 children were shot at school, 75 of them fatally, according to an analysis of data from the CHDS School Shooting Safety Compendium, a federally funded tracker launched after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.

All told, three times as many children were shot in domestic violence incidents as in school shootings and eight times as many died. The majority of those children were intentionally shot by a parent, stepparent or guardian – the very people expected to protect them.

Now, don’t think this is a pro-gun or even gun-neutral article. The author works for The Trace, so you know it’s still anti-gun.

However, the truth of the matter is that whole mass shootings get a lot of attention, they’re a small fraction of the violence that can claim a life.


That applies to kids as well.

Where the author doesn’t really step up, though, is in telling you there are 73.6 million children in the United States.

While the loss of any child is tragic, the truth is that those numbers above are for a five-year span, so if you break it down annually, things look different.

Take these domestic shootings, for example. That’s 173.2 per year.

According to the CDC, in 2020, 607 kids were killed in car accidents. That puts those numbers in stark contrast.

None of this is to say that we don’t have an issue. The idea of any parent or guardian killing the child in their charge is troubling, to say the least. It’s representative of a very real problem, one we need to address as a nation in some way, shape, or form.

However, additional gun regulations–something the author does seem to favor later in the piece–aren’t likely to keep children alive. After all, a violent parent or guardian has alternatives for taking a child’s life if that’s what they want to do.

It makes more sense to deal with this at the source in the first place by addressing the reasons for domestic violence. Undermine that and you have nothing to worry about going forward.

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