No, There Haven't Been '74 School Shootings' Since Newtown

Thursday, 12 Jun 2014 07:35 AM

By Nick Sanchez

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Gun violence has dropped dramatically over the last two decades, but you wouldn't know it from a misleading statistic on school shootings being passed around by an anti-gun group backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

His new group, Everytown for Gun Safety, released a list claiming there have been 74 school shootings since the December 2012 tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.

The disturbing claim caught the attention of many news outlets and readers who've shared it on social media this week, however, after a closer look, several reports have debunked or "clarified" just what that number actually means.

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At the very bottom of Everytown's long list is a disclaimer — or as the group puts it, a note on the "data." It's important to read this fine print, which itself acknowledges that the number of "School Shootings in America Since Sandy Hook" — an indiscriminate mass shooting — also "includes assaults, homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings," not to mention gang-related violence.

Everytown's definition is so broad that it counts accidental shootings — like one highlighted by journalist Charles C. Johnson in which a teenager accidentally shot herself in the thigh — as the same thing as the Sandy Hook massacre in which a madman murdered 20 children and six adults.

After parsing the full list, Johnson concluded that 7 of the listed incidents were comparable to the shootings at Columbine, Sandy Hook, or Isla Vista — not 74.

On Wednesday, CNN took a closer look at the list, and also found far fewer than 74 incidents it would compare to Sandy Hook. The news team there concluded that "15 of the incidents Everytown included were situations similar to the [June 10] violence in Oregon — a minor or adult actively shooting inside or near a school."

In both cases the true number of school shootings was dramatically lower than Everytown's broad claim of 74.

The good news, National Review noted, is that gun crimes have fallen dramatically over the last two decades — an inconvenient fact for anti-gun groups. Importantly, it emphasizes that "these drops have happened while the gun laws have generally been liberalized, not tightened."

The publication highlighted a recent report from the Pew Research Center, which states that, "National rates of gun homicide and other violent gun crimes are strikingly lower now than during their peak in the mid-1990s, paralleling a general decline in violent crime." The same report noted that the public was generally "unaware" that the violence has "plunged."

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