From Bradley Gawthrop:
What EXACTLY is a school shooting? (Warning : This is pretty long)
So they say there have been 74 school shootings since Newtown. Let’s have a closer look at that.
Starting at the given data set of 74, 34 of those are included because they happened on college campuses. I consider this problematic. College campuses have porous borders, if somebody had been shot in front of the apartment building I lived in ten years ago, it would just have been a homicide, but if they’d crossed the street, it would have been a “school shooting” by this definition because thats where the VCU campus started, so let’s restrict ourselves to examining schools where children go, rather than adult environments.
So that's 40 events at K-12 facilities. Start looking these events up, and it becomes clear the definition of a “school shooting” being used here is pretty pliable. 7 of these are suicides - tragedies to be sure, but not really what you think of as a “school shooting” per se, they just shot themselves at school rather than someplace else. So, now we’re down to 32. Of these events, eleven are neighborhood violence which spilled onto school property after hours. People found murdered out behind school buildings for example, or in their parking lots. Often nobody involved had anything to do with the school, they just happened to be on the campus when the crime happened, or were discovered there. Again, these are tragic events, but “School shootings?” - not really. So of the remaining 21, what have we got?
Well I think we can also exclude the 70 year old teacher who shot a former (expelled) student who tried to assault him and the two students he was escorting to their cars in self defense. The police did.
I don’t know that the two kids who brought guns to school which accidentally discharged injuring either nobody, or only that kid carrying them are really “school shooters” either, but feel free to disagree with me.
I suppose we’ll include the kid at Madison High who was arrested with weapons despite never firing a shot as a “shooter” based on intention, so that’s 19 events with 8 fatalities between them in a year and a half. There are more than 132,000 K-12 schools in this country, many of them in pretty rough neighborhoods, their combined enrollment is north of 54 million students. So a K-12 student’s odds of being killed in a “school shooting” which actually lives up to the name in the data set provided is something like one in six and three quarter million. Actually somewhat less, because the 8 fatalities include a few teachers.
19 events is too many, 8 fatalities is too many, but let’s keep an ounce of perspective.
To be clear, I'm not making an argument about guns one way or the other, or about violence, except the violence done to statistical reality by distorted scare numbers like these. The problem is bad enough without exaggerating for greater effect. If anybody wants my spreadsheet with links to the news stories about the events, I'm happy to provide it.