The tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida has brought with it an increased focus on gun violence in schools. It has also bought out a lot of misinformation about school shootings, much of which goes unchallenged.
A common talking point repeated by the media has been this sobering statement: there have been 18 school shootings in 2018 alone. If you’re wondering how you missed so many school shootings this year, you aren’t alone. But there’s a reason for that.
It’s important to note that each instance should not be minimized, but those not involving a mass shooting or attempted greater harm to innocent students should be considered in context.
The “18 school shootings” talking point comes from the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. It has then been circulated by the media, but there’s a big problem with it: it isn’t true. Not by a long shot.
Siraj Hashmi of The Washington Examiner has broken down the 18 incidents being described as “school shootings,” and found that most don’t qualify as such, at least not according to what most of us consider “school shootings.”
Even the actual number of “school shootings” this year claimed by Everytown has changed. At first, they claimed 12, but then they cast a wider definition of school shooting to include 19 instances, then down to 18. One of the “school shootings” they initially claimed was committed by a pellet gun (detailed below), and was later dropped.
Their definition of “school shooting” was so wide, it even surprised some involved that their instance was included. The list included a mistaken shot taken at a college gun class in a town near Dallas, which did not even get wide media coverage in the Dallas metroplex area at the time.
In most of the cases, the list of 18 instances included suicides or acts of gun violence not directly connected to the school or college. The list even included accidental discharges of a firearm, in which no malicious intent was involved.
11 instances did not meet the general definition most people hold of a school shooting, and involve isolated incidents that did not threaten the student body.
*Jan. 3, Clinton County, MI. A man committed suicide in an elementary school parking lot. The school was closed and no children were there at the time.
*Jan. 6, Forest City, IA. A man shot a pellet gun at a school bus window. The window shattered but no one was hurt. The man was arrested. This instance was later removed from the list of school shootings by Everytown.
*Jan 10, Denison, TX. A student in a gun class at Grayson College accidentally fired a real gun instead of a training gun, lodging a bullet into a wall. No one was injured. College officials were shocked to hear the incident was included in the “school shootings” list.
*Jan. 10, Cochise County, AZ. A 14-year-old seventh-grader committed suicide with a gunshot to the head in a bathroom at Coronado Elementary School.
*Jan. 20, Winston-Salem, NC. A football player at Winston-Salem State University was shot and killed during an argument at a sorority party.
*Jan. 25, Mobile, AL. A fight between two 16-year-old students escalated when one pulled a gun and fired at another. No one was injured and the suspect was arrested.
*Jan. 26, Dearborn, MI. Two non-students in the parking lot of Dearborn High School in Dearborn, MI got into a fight during a basketball game. Shots were fired, but those involved were never caught.
*Jan. 31, Philadelphia, PA. A 32-year-old was shot and killed in the Lincoln High School parking lot during a basketball game.
*Feb. 5, Oxon Hill, MD. A teenage student was shot in the chest in the parking lot of Oxon High School. The shooting was the result of a love triangle, and the suspect was arrested.
*Feb. 5, Maplewood, MN. A third grader at Harmony Learning Center managed to to pull the trigger of a police officer’s gun while it was in the holster. No one was injured.
*Feb. 8, The Bronx, NY. A 17-year-old at Metropolitan High School fired a gun into the floor of a classroom. No one was injured.
Three instances included gun violence that seemed to be directed at a school or college, but no one was shot.
On January 4, someone fired at New Start High School near Burien, WA. No suspects were ever found. On January 10, someone fired a gun at a building at Cal State University – San Bernardino. No one was injured. On January 22, someone in a passing pickup truck shot at a group of students outside NET Charter High School in Gentilly, LA. No one was shot, and the shooter was never found.
Only two instances meet the criteria that we consider as a mass school shooting, with two other instances causing school-wide panic and fear like a mass shooting. Those four instances are listed below.
On January 22, a 16-year-old boy was arrested after shooting a 15-year-old girl in the cafeteria at the high school in Italy, TX. The young girl survived but faces a long recovery.
On January 23, a 15-year-old boy shot and killed two students and wounded 18 others at Marshall County High School in Benton, KY. The boy was arrested.
On February 1, a 12-year-old girl at Sal Castro Middle School in Los Angeles fired what she thought was a fake gun, hitting boy in the head. Three other students were injured, and causing a panic and evacuation of the school. The young girl was arrested.
On February 14, Nikolas Cruz killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.