News and Commentary

‘Flat Wrong’: Washington Post Torches Much-Cited School Shooting Statistic

A frequently cited statistic about school shootings is so egregiously misleading that even the generally left-leaning Washington Post has been forced to call out the “flat wrong” claim.

After the horrific mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school on Wednesday, which was carried out by a 19-year-old former student with a history of psychological and behavioral problems, several headlines and social media posts have included the claim that there have been “18 school shootings in 2018.” But as The Daily Wire reported Wednesday, a closer look at the numbers showed that was simply untrue. The phony statistic comes from anti-gun group “Everytown for Gun Safety,” which has a habit of conflating accidental gun discharges, suicides, and mass shootings to inflate numbers as a means to promote their gun control agenda.

This time, Everytown’s fake statistic was so misleading that the Washington Post felt compelled to publish a fact-check article unsubtly titled, “No, there haven’t been 18 school shootings in 2018. That number is flat wrong.” As the Post points out, only five of the 18 supposed “school shootings” actually occurred during shool hours and resulted in any injuries.

One of the most egregious of the supposed school shootings involved a man who shot himself in a car parked at an elementary school that “had been closed for seven months.” After being called out for that particularly absurd example, Everytown said it’s going to remove that one from its list. But the larger question remains: Five school shootings is horrific enough — why does Everytown feel the need to inflate the number with bogus examples?

Here’s the key passage debunking Everytown’s much-cited claim:

Everytown has long inflated its total by including incidents of gunfire that are not really school shootings. Take, for example, what it counts as the year’s first: On the afternoon of Jan. 3, a 31-year-old man who had parked outside a Michigan elementary school called police to say he was armed and suicidal. Several hours later, he killed himself. The school, however, had been closed for seven months. There were no teachers. There were no students.

Also listed on the organization’s site is an incident from Jan. 20, when — at 1 a.m. — a man was shot at a sorority event on the campus of Wake Forest University. A week later, as a basketball game was being played at a Michigan high school, someone fired several rounds from a gun in the parking lot. No one was injured, and it was past 8 p.m., well after classes had ended for the day, but Everytown still labeled it a school shooting. …

Just five of Everytown’s 18 school shootings listed for 2018 happened during school hours and resulted in any physical injury. Another three appeared to be intentional shootings but didn’t hurt anyone. Two more involved guns — one carried by a school police officer and the other by a licensed peace officer who ran a college club — that were unintentionally fired and, again, led to no injuries. At least seven of Everytown’s 18 shootings took place outside normal school hours.

Here’s The Daily Wire’s full list of the 18 gun incidents cited by Everytown.

As the Post’s fact-check suggests, this isn’t the first time they’ve caught Everytown trying to mislead the public on the issue of mass shootings. They also nailed Everytown back in 2015 about its notorious conflation of vastly different gun-related situations, including “attempted and committed suicides, accidental discharges, armed robberies, gang fights, shootings resulting from altercations, and shootings similar to the rampages at Sandy Hook or in Charleston, where a person intends to kill multiple people.”

H/T HotAir’s John Sexton