Don’t use that “18 school shootings since Jan 1” claim. It’s Inaccurate.

Don’t use that “18 school shootings since Jan 1” meme. It’s misleading.

I’ve lost track of how many times this image has popped up on my social media feeds.

The 18 “school shootings” marked on that map include an instance in which a third-grader accidentally pulled the trigger of a police officer’s holstered gun (nobody was hurt), and an instance in which a man committed suicide in the parking lot of a building that was formerly an elementary school but had been closed for 6 months. Other items on that list include “Gunshots, most likely fired from off campus, hit a campus building window. No injuries” at Wiley College, “Student unintentionally fired a bullet from gun legally possessed by an instructor that struck a wall. No injuries.” at Grayson College, and “One student wounds another student during argument at sorority party” at Wake Forest U.

The Washington Post:

The stunning number swept across the Internet within minutes of the news Wednesday that, yet again, another young man with another semiautomatic rifle had rampaged through a school, this time at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in South Florida.

The figure originated with Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit group, co-founded by Michael Bloomberg, that works to prevent gun violence and is most famous for its running tally of school shootings.

“This,” the organization tweeted at 4:22 p.m. Wednesday, “is the 18th school shooting in the U.S. in 2018.”

A tweet by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) including the claim had been liked more than 45,000 times by Thursday evening, and one from political analyst Jeff Greenfield had cracked 126,000. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted it, too, as did performers Cher and Alexander William and actors Misha Collins and Albert Brooks. News organizations — including MSNBC, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, Time, MSN, the BBC, the New York Daily News and HuffPost — also used the number in their coverage. By Wednesday night, the top suggested search after typing “18” into Google was “18 school shootings in 2018.”

It is a horrifying statistic. And it is wrong. –Washington Post, No, there haven’t been 18 school shootings in 2018. That number is flat wrong.

Vox offers a better source, which also notes that it’s possible to argue that mass shootings (not the more-specific “school shootings”) are or are not increasing, depending on how you choose to define “mass shooting.”

The counts come from the Gun Violence Archive, a database that tracks events since 2013 in which four or more people (not counting the shooter) were shot at the same general time and location. The database’s researchers comb through hundreds of news stories, police reports, and other sources each day and individually verify the reports. Still, since some shootings aren’t reported, the database is likely missing some shootings, and some are missing details. The count is also a constant work in progress, so some of the numbers and details may be slightly imprecise. —Vox




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