In a recent article*, CNN claims that Americans have experienced an average of 1 school shooting every week in 2018.
We’re only 20 weeks into 2018, and there have already been 22 school shootings where someone was hurt or killed. That averages out to more than 1 shooting a week.
This claim makes it seem like schools across the country are awash in violence and your kids probably going to be next. Ah, but there’s a caveat:
The parameters CNN followed in this count are:
- A shooting that involved at least one person being shot (not including the shooter)
- A shooting that occurred on school grounds
- We included grades K through college/university level
- We included gang violence, fights and domestic violence
- We included accidental discharge of a firearm as long as the first two parameters are met
And what a caveat it is!
You see, in order to conjure up the image that our kids are in constant danger, they have to fluff the numbers a bit. They do this by including violence that would occur regardless of location. Gang activity, fighting, domestic violence and accidents are going to go down whether the people involved are at school or not and this violence is generally directed at very specific targets, rather than the indiscriminate violence that CNN and others want us to fear. It’s safe to remove these incidents, particularly those that occurred outside of attendance hours where no actual students were harmed, from under the banner of “school shooting” and place them in the “general crime” category. This is an important distinction because we are meant to be conditioned to fear the random school shooting, but if we can see that most of this violence occurs in the pursuance of some other activity, then the underlying causes can be addressed more accurately and some of the fear dispelled.
Let’s look at CNN’s list to see what we can suss out and score it accordingly.
May 18: Santa Fe, Texas
At least eight people — and as many as 10 — were killed in a shooting at Santa Fe High School.
A 17-year-old stole his father’s shotgun and revolver and shot 10 people. He told investigators that “he did not shoot students he did like so he could have his story told,” and was described as having few friends and being “bullied by coaches.”
This is still developing but it appears to be fairly directed toward people he felt animosity toward, even though it took place at a school. I’m not willing to dismiss it as a school shooting, but there’s more to this than random violence. I will be surprised if SSRI’s aren’t involved.
School Shooting: 1 Specific Violence: 0
May 11: Palmdale, California
A 14-year-old boy went to Highland High, his former school, and began shooting a semiautomatic rifle shortly before classes were scheduled to begin, officials said. A 15-year-old boy was struck in the shoulder.
Most outlets have one little blurb about it with varying degrees of bluster about how scared everyone was, but there’s not much in the way of information on this. Local sources state that the incident “was sparked by a dispute between the two students, but investigators were still trying to determine a specific motive,” making it likely that this is specific violence.
School Shooting: 1 Specific Violence: 1
April 20: Ocala, Florida
A 17-year-old student at Forest High School was shot in the ankle shortly before students were to walk out as part of a national protest against gun violence.. The suspect was a 19-year-old former student.
This could no doubt have been much worse than it was. The 19-year-old non-enrolled student (whatever that is) drove for over an hour, after taking “banned” anti-anxiety drugs, to sneak a shotgun into the building inside a guitar case, fired one round through a closed door, dropped his weapon and ran to hide. His claim that, “If I didn’t snap now, it would have been later and it would’ve been a hundred times worse” and that he just wanted to “inflict fear in students” leads me to call this just about as random as it gets.
School Shooting: 2 Specific Violence: 1
April 12: Raytown, Missouri
A man was shot in the stomach in the parking lot of Raytown South Middle School during a track meet.
There’s almost less than no information here but, from what there is we can reasonably say this was not a school shooting since no students were involved.
School Shooting: 2 Specific Violence: 2
April 9: Gloversville, New York
A student shot another student with a BB gun in Gloversville Middle School.
March 20: Lexington Park, Maryland
An armed student shot two others at Great Mills High School before a school resource officer fired a round at the shooter. The shooter was killed. One of the students, 16-year-old girl Jaelynn Willey, was taken off life support two days later.
March 13: Seaside, California
A teacher accidentally discharged a gun during a public safety class at Seaside High School, injuring a student.
I don’t think this even deserves a dissection. It’s clearly not random violence but negligence on the part of a reserve police officer.
School Shooting: 2 Specific Violence: 5
March 8: Mobile, Alabama
One person was hospitalized after a shooting at an apartment building on the campus of the University of South Alabama.
A single person who was not a student was shot, not at “school,” but sort of around the school vicinity. Yes, I understand the term “on campus” but this took place both after school hours and in domestic housing. Not a school shooting.
School Shooting: 2 Specific Violence: 6
March 7: Birmingham, Alabama
One student was killed and another critically wounded after an accidental shooting during dismissal time at Huffman High School. Police wouldn’t elaborate further.
March 7: Jackson, Mississippi
A student was shot inside a dormitory at Jackson State University. His injuries were not life-threatening.
Though it did occur “on a campus,” this reads like an accident and nothing more. Not a School Shooting.
School Shooting: 2 Specific Violence: 8
March 2: Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Two people were shot to death at a dormitory on the campus of Central Michigan University. The victims were not students and police think the incident stemmed from a domestic situation.
A 19-year-old man killed his parents when they arrived to pick him up after an episode of “erratic behavior.” He obtained the pistol from his father who was a police officer. It’s unclear exactly how he came to possess it, but this is very directed violence by what appears to be a disturbed young man.
School Shooting: 2 Specific Violence: 9
February 27: Norfolk, Virginia
A student at Norfolk State University was shot from an adjacent dorm room while he was doing homework. He was not seriously injured.
A kid was doing homework when a negligent discharge hit him in the ass after passing through the wall from the adjacent room. This is a fine example of irresponsibility, but is not a School Shooting.
School Shooting: 2 Specific Violence: 10
February 27: Itta Bena, Mississippi
A person was shot in a rec center at Mississippi Valley State University. Police said the person was not a student and the injury was not life-threatening.
February 24: Savannah, Georgia
A person was shot on the campus of Savannah State University and taken to a nearby hospital where he later died. Neither the victim nor the shooter were university students, the college said.
Two men, neither of whom were students, get into some kind of altercation and one shoots the other and then flees. If there were a textbook of targeted violence, this would be in there.
School Shooting: 2 Specific Violence: 12
February 14: Parkland, Florida
A 19-year-old man gunned down students and staff with a rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, slaughtering at least 17 unsuspecting students and adults. The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, had been expelled from the high school over disciplinary problems, officials said.
February 9: Nashville
A high school student was shot five times in the parking lot of Pearl-Cohn High School.
February 5: Oxon Hill, Maryland
A high school student was shot in the parking lot of Oxon Hill High. The victim was treated and later released. Police arrested two teens and said they are acquaintances of the victim.
February 1: Los Angeles
A 15-year-old boy was shot in the head and a 15-year-old girl shot in the wrist at Sal Castro Middle School in Los Angeles, officials said. Two other students were grazed by bullets. A 12-year-old girl was booked for negligent discharge of a firearm in that shooting, which was considered “unintentional,” Los Angeles police said.
January 31: Philadelphia
A fight led to a shooting in the parking lot of Lincoln High School, fatally wounding a 32-year-old man.
January 23: Benton, Kentucky
A 15-year-old student shot 16 people — killing two other 15-year-olds — at Marshall County High School, authorities said. The student faces two charges of murder and 12 counts of first degree assault.
January 22: Italy, Texas
A 15-year-old student was wounded in a shooting at a high school in Italy, Texas, authorities said. The suspect, also 15, was quickly apprehended.
January 20: Winston Salem, North Carolina
A Winston-Salem State University football player, Najee Ali Baker, was shot to death at a party on the campus of Wake Forest University.
Several people get into a fight at a college party and one suspect shoots the victim with a stolen firearm and flees.
School Shooting: 4 Specific Violence: 18
What have we learned?
So, out of the 22 “school shootings” that CNN claims, we find that the vast majority are gang violence or lover’s revenge. The real number of what the public understands to be a school shooting is 4. Granted, that is 4 too many and we need to take a hard look at how to prevent them in the future but scare-mongering from CNN and the rest of the media is doing nothing but muddying the waters and preventing a real solution. The irrational drive to take firearms from the law-abiding through dishonest reporting is a detriment to society’s growth and CNN as an organization is one of many responsible for it. Solutions build on lies will fail spectacularly.