Dems, Media Push Misleading Stat That There Have Been 18 School Shootings This Year

Figure includes incidents when no one was hurt

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Credit: Stephen Gutowski
• February 16, 2018 1:51 pm


Democratic politicians and several media outlets this week have pushed the misleading, but widely spread, claim that there have been 18 school shootings in the U.S. so far this year.

Multiple fact checkers have noted that this statistic, first put out by the gun-control group Everytown for Gun Safety, is inaccurate.

The Washington Free Beacon reported last month that Everytown defines a school shooting as "any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds," even when no one is injured. The group includes in its figure, for example, an incident from last month, when someone fired several rounds from a gun in the parking lot of a Michigan high school. No one was injured and the shots were fired several hours after class ended. Still, Everytown counted the incident as a school shooting equivalent to Wednesday's massacre at a Florida high school that killed 17 people.

On Thursday, the fact-checking website PolitiFact investigated journalist Jeff Greenfield's use of the 18-shootings figure in a tweet after the shooting this week.

PolitiFact found that Time, Politico, CNBC, the New York Daily News, ABC News, and HuffPost all reported on Everytown's figure. Several politicians have used the number as well.

Some lawmakers even claimed that this week's massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida was the 19th school shooting of the year.

But PolitiFact noted that of the "18 incidents in which a gun was fired inside a school or on school property," nine involved no deaths and no gunshot injuries. Furthermore, two were suicides, with no other injuries, and three were unintentional.

Others have debunked the 18-shootings figure. The Washington Post‘s John Woodrow Cox and Steven Rich called the number "flat wrong."

"Everytown has long inflated its total by including incidents of gunfire that are not really school shootings," they wrote, noting an example from Jan. 3, when a 31-year-old man parked outside a Michigan elementary school called police to say he was armed and suicidal. He killed himself, but the school had been closed for seven months. There were no teachers or students.

"The figures matter because gun-control activists use them as evidence in their fight for bans on assault weapons, stricter background checks, and other legislation," Cox and Rich wrote.

Published under: Fact Check, Gun Control, Guns, Schools