How you define a thing defines that thing.
Recently the President of the United States, echoing without analysis a gun control group sound bite, talked about how there have been 74 school shootings since the Sandy Hook massacre. He did not elaborate on how he came by this number because, frankly, he doesn’t know what he is talking about (surprise).
Like many criminological things, the definition of a “school shooting” is borderline nonsensical and defined by government criminologists. In the Bureau of Justice Statistics publication Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2013, they note:
School associated violent deaths include those that occurred while the victim was on the way to or returning from regular sessions at school or while the victim was attending or traveling to or from an official school sponsored event.
Ponder this for a moment. A kid wearing the wrong colors while dashing from school to home through a gang-infested inner-city neighborhood, and who is mistaken for a rival gang member and thus murdered, is considered a “school shooting.” But this gets even odder when the report also states:
Victims of school-associated violent deaths include not only students and staff members, but also others who are not students or staff members, such as parents.
So anyone regardless of their age, job or employment/enrollment status, shot in route to or from a school is considered a school shooting. A janitor who commits suicide in his car when he gets home is a school associated violent death. A street thug running for his life and escaping onto a campus while catching a bullet in the back is a school shooting.
I could go on, but the point is clear: There is no epidemic of fatal school violence. The same BJS report that defines school shootings also says:
… the percentage of youth homicides occurring at school remained at less than 2 percent of the total number of youth homicides … there were 17 school-associated violent deaths between December 15, 2012, and November 14, 2013; of these deaths, 11 were homicides and 6 were suicides …
First, when it comes to young people being murdered, school is one of the safer places. Second, in the first year after Sandy Hook, eleven youngsters were murdered (some without guns and some nowhere near campus).
The source of the scare tactic was none other than Everytown, who didn’t even bother to use the governments definition of a “school shooting.” Instead they scanned news reports and gathered up all stories whereby:
Incidents were classified as school shootings when a firearm was discharged inside a school building or on school or campus grounds, as documented in publicly reported news accounts. This includes assaults, homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings.
In their “analysis”, a school shooting involves self-defense warning shots, accidental discharges by cops on site, and college campus suicides (14 of Everytown’s 74 incidents were suicides or attempts, 15 involved nobody getting shot, and only 20 people were reported dead).
Fear not mom and dad. Your schools – unless you live in Chicago – are one of the safest places your kids can be.