Friday, June 3, 2022

In the last 56 years, there have been 13 school mass shootings.

by Rod Williams, June 3, 2022- Since the tragedy in Uvalde Texas, I have consumed a lot of news about that tragedy and done a lot of reading about past similar tragedies and thought a lot about it.  I am tending toward a conclusion that something must be done. Maybe it is time for reasonable gun control or if not "gun control," other measures to lessen gun violence. However, I am not yet firmly committed to what should be done. It is a complex issue. 

One needs to be careful in understanding what one reads and be clear of one's definitions. Some in reporting on the problem of mass school shootings will conflate information and leave an impression of many more mass school shootings have occurred than have actually occurred. There is a difference between "school shootings," "mass shootings," and "mass school shootings." 

The best information I can come up with is from Reason magazine, that in the last 56 years, there have been 13 school mass shootings. This uses the definition of a shooting occurring at a school in which at least four people were killed or injured. Also, Reason points out that all mass casualty shooting events constitute less than 1 percent of all gun deaths. That does not negate that America is an outlier and compared to the rest of the countries of the developed world Americans kill each other at an alarming rate

This is by no means meant to minimize the tragedy. Mass shootings at nightclubs, churches, shopping malls, or Country music concerts in Las Vegas are also tragedies, but a clear understanding of the problem is necessary for clear thinking about the problem.  School children are still safer at school than riding to school in a car with their parents. Schools are still one of the safest places a child can be. 

NPR ran a piece titled, "27 school shootings have taken place so far this year." That is 27 school shootings with injuries or deaths this year. That is terrible, but that could be one person wounding another; not 27 Uvalde Texas-style mass shootings.

If you do a Wikipedia search on the topic you will find, "List of school shootings in the United States". It covers the period Feb. 2020 through May 21, 2022. It lists several hundred. Included in the list are entries such as: 

March 30, 2015, University City, Missouri Police said one person has been arrested for a shooting at Pershing Elementary School. The shooting occurred in the parking lot, with a 34-year-old-man being shot in the buttocks.

October 22, 2015, Nashville, Tennessee, One person was killed and three others were wounded in a shooting at an outdoor courtyard at Tennessee State University. The shooting may have stemmed from an argument over a dice game. A suspect has not been identified or arrested.

November 11, 2019, Baltimore, Maryland. A 19-year-old student who was outside Reginald F. Lewis High School was approached by a masked man who shot him in the leg.

May 9, 2022, Suwanee, Georgia, A woman fired 12 shots at a moving school bus. Nobody was shot but the bus driver was injured by shattered glass.

This is terrible, but getting shot in the leg by a masked gunman is normally not what one thinks of when they hear the term "school shooting." Two college students getting into a shoot-out over a dice game is not what one thinks about.

The tragedy of  Uvalde Texas was terrible. It is terrible enough as it is, one does not need to distort the magnitude of the problem to make that point. Truth should matter. 


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