Trivializing tragedy

By Sam Rolley / Personal Liberty Digest

Following the horrific school shooting in Florida last week, gun control supporters have begun throwing around some highly suspect numbers concerning mass shootings in the United States.

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s anti-2nd Amendment organization Everytown for Gun Safety took to Twitter last week claiming that the Florida tragedy was the 18th mass shooting to occur on a school campus this year.

The tweet spread around quickly, leaving thousands of Americans shocked that in less than two months the nation has been rocked by 18 separate school shootings.

The only problem with the claim is that it isn’t exactly true.

Reason’s Eric Boehm explains in a recent column why Everytown’s figure is total bunk:

The group defines a school shooting is “any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds.”

That is, of course, not what almost anyone means when they use the term “school shooting.” It is foolish to group the Florida massacre with, say, a suicide in the parking lot of a Michigan school, especially when the Michigan school had been closed for months, but that’s exactly what Everytown does. It’s foolish, that is, unless your goal is to shock people with the biggest number possible. That might be what Everytown is trying to do, but such deception does nothing to help advance a discussion about stopping actual school shootings.

A quick review of Everytown’s database turns up other outlandish examples. On January 10, “gunshots, which most likely originated off-campus, hit a window of the visual arts building at California State University, San Bernardino. Classes were immediately canceled as the university went into lockdown, though a police search failed to turn up any shooter on campus.” On February 5, in a suburb of Minneapolis, “a school liaison officer was sitting on a bench talking with some students when a third-grader pressed the trigger on the officer’s holstered weapon, causing it to fire and strike the floor.” Those were no doubt terrifying incidents for the people involved, and they may even have policy implications, but they are not what anyone thinks of when they hear the phrase “school shootings.”

But the media and several prominent politicians, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), eagerly regurgitated the context-free statistic in the aftermath of the shooting in Florida, apparently without stopping to wonder why they hadn’t heard about the other 17 school shootings that supposedly had happened since January 1.

With this classic fear-mongering, anti-2nd Amendment groups believe they are doing good work in furthering the cause of gun control. But the real result of such water muddying claims is a more dangerous nation in which finding answers to mass murder is increasingly impossible.

Consider for a moment how much we know about the weapons used in shooting tragedies compared to how little we know about the monsters behind the senseless bloodshed.

In the most recent shooting, we know that law enforcement officials had repeatedly been warned that the shooter was showing signs of planning an attack. Unfortunately, neither the nor local law enforcement officials were compelled to scrutinize the young man enough to head off his attack despite his having essentially spelled out his intentions online.

And remember Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock? How is it that Americans know little more about Paddock, one of the most deadly murderers in American history, today than the day before his evil attack?

Even if Congress mandates that every gun in America be melted into a useless hunk of steel, an impossible and unrealistic task, the monsters will still be with us. And until we learn to recognize the monsters, they’ll find ways to kill large numbers of innocents. If there were no guns left, would Everytown and other groups begin classifying hanging suicides alongside mass murders carried out with automobiles or explosives? Of course not.

So why are these groups attempting to make Americans believe nearly every shooting is a mass shooting? Put most simply, it’s because comparing the number of firearms owned by Americans to the number used in these unspeakable acts of violence betrays the argument that guns are responsible for senseless mass shooting deaths.

Unfortunately, we’ll never improve our efforts to to recognize the killers as long as the mainstream chooses to pretend that guns are the monsters.


After covering news and politics for traditional media outlets, Sam Rolley took a position at Personal Liberty Media Group where he focuses on his true passions: national politics and liberty issues. In his daily columns and reports, Rolley works to help readers recognize lies perpetuated by the mainstream media and develop a better understanding of issues ignored by more conventional outlets. Follow him on Twitter @SamRolley


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