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Lies, Damn Lies, and School Shooting Statistics

Matthew HennesseyC
Matthew Hennessey
November 18, 2015

We are closing in on the third anniversary of the most horrific gun-related crime in modern memory the 2012 mass murder of children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Let me ask you a question: How many school shootings do you think have there been since that awful early December morning?

A dozen? Two dozen?

Nice try. According to the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety formerly Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America there have been 160 school shootings since Newtown, adding up to approximately one per week.

Now, I'm neither a gun owner, an NRA member, nor a Second Amendment fundamentalist. I've only ever fired a gun once 20 years ago at a range with a friend.

Guns aren't really my thing. But I do follow the news pretty closely and the 160 school shootings claim which I read in an AP story about debate over removing metal detectors from New York City public schools didn't sit right with me.

If there had been a school shooting in America every week since Newtown, I'm pretty sure I'd have heard about it. But, hey, maybe my bull detector is broken.

I went to to see for myself where all these school shootings have been taking place (and how it is I've managed to miss them). Turns out my bull detector is not broken not at all.

It works like a charm.

I couldn't look deeply into each incident listed as a "school shooting" on the Everytown site (because I have a life to live), but a mere perusal and a little Googling was enough to convince me that this organization lovingly and authoritatively quoted by the AP stretches the truth to fit its fantastical predetermined conclusions about gun violence in America's schools.

For instance, the most recent entry on Everytown's school shooting "database" happened on November 11, in Sulphur Rock, Arkansas. Everytown lists it as a "gun fired unintentionally resulting in injury or death."

According to a local news report, however, "two students were waiting in the parking lot to catch a bus to the high school. According to Independence County Sheriff Steve Jeffery, one student had a .380 semi-automatic handgun that he was showing to the other. The weapon reportedly discharged in the vehicle and hit the student in the leg."

A school shooting? Umm. Not really, but okay.

Next entry: November 10 Lecanto, Florida, a 15-year-old freshman high school student attempts suicide with a gun inside a classroom. The local FOX affiliate reports that, "Despite his head wound, the sheriff said, the student remained conscious and was able to confirm that he had no intention of targeting others."

This incident at least happened inside a school and it was technically a shooting but still, come on.

Next entry: November 5 Moultrie, Georgia. "A student being escorted through a school fired a Colquitt County deputy's gun in its holster Thursday, but no one was injured," reports the Moultrie Observer. "The deputy was able to get the boy from under the desk and was escorting him to the 'time-out room' when the boy got his fingers inside the deputy's holster and fired one shot from the semiautomatic pistol."

You getting the picture here?

Next entry: November 1 Winston-Salem State University. Here we have an actual shooting death, but not at a "school" in the sense that we usually talk about school shootings, but at a University, in the parking lot of a dormitory, at 1:20 in the morning. So, in other words, a personal dispute turned deadly. Not exactly Columbine.

In fact, there are a couple of college shootings on the Everytown list. I'll skip them.

Next entry: October 24 Ed White Middle School in San Antonio, Texas. Oh no! A middle school? Just like Newtown, right? Eh, not quite.

"Arturo Gutierrez, 25, was shot and killed around 2:30 a.m. Saturday in the parking lot of Ed White Middle School when a white sport utility vehicle drove by and someone opened fire."

You want some more? October 15 Wagner High School, again in San Antonio, Texas. "[A] man pulled into the parking lot in a cream-colored sedan, exited his car with a bat and smashed the principal's car. He then pulled out a gun and fired shots at the car."

(Overheard that afternoon at Everytown for Gun Safety: Hey Dave! D'ya see this? We got another school shooting over. Some kid blasted the principal's car and drove away. Woo-hoo! Chalk it up!)

I suppose by now you get the point. In about 45 minutes, I was able to satisfy myself that the 10 most recent "school shootings" on Everytown's list weren't actual school shootings. I could have kept going. I think I'll go back to my life.

They want to take the metal detectors out of New York City's schools? I say go right ahead, but don't even think about touching my bull detector. You'll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.