You’ve heard the anti-gun voices—picture a politician wringing his hands in worry while he’s holding a press conference—after any shooting tragedy, but especially after one at a school. “There are hundreds of school shootings every year. We’ve GOT to do something.” It’s a cry that rings out regularly any time the left wants to further encroach on our right to protect ourselves with a firearm.
So, in light of the high numbers being bandied about, the Department of Education decided to include a question about school shootings in its latest Civil Rights Data Collection report. In its section on “serious offenses,” the report lists the number of various problems—physical attack with a weapon, without a weapon, with a firearm; robbery with a weapon, without a weapon, with a firearm; and so on.
Then, below the chart, the report says: “In addition to the foregoing incidents of serious offenses, for the first time, the CRDC required schools to report on school-related shootings and school-related homicides. Nearly 240 schools (0.2 percent of all schools) reported at least 1 incident involving a school-related shooting, and over 100 schools (0.1 percent of all schools) reported a school-related homicide involving a student, faculty member, or staff member. About 1 out of every 100,000 students was enrolled in a school that reported a school-related shooting or school-related homicide during the 2015–16 school year.”
No doubt, that’s where the gun control supporters get their information about there being four or more school shootings every week in this country. The thing is, the numbers in that report don’t hold water.
Later the report specifies that “nearly 240” schools is 235. So, NPR decided to vet the information, and guess what the follow-up found. NPR was able to confirm just 11—that’s right, just one more than how high you can count using all your fingers and thumbs—school shootings.
“In 161 cases, schools or districts attested that no incident took place or couldn't confirm one. In at least four cases, we found, something did happen, but it didn't meet the government's parameters for a shooting. About a quarter of schools didn't respond to our inquiries,” NPR said.
Among the misrepresentations, it seems that Cleveland had reported 37 shooting incidents, but that number really reflected the number of times someone was caught on school grounds with a gun or knife. Ventura Unified School District in California cited 27 cases, but an official told NPR the true number was zero and that someone had entered the number 27 on the wrong line.
Granted, 59 of the cases could not be confirmed or denied in the NPR research—which was a months-long effort that included in-depth inquiries about the reported shootings. But if you extrapolate out the figures, 11 actual shootings out of 176 cases that were investigated would translate to 15 shootings would have happened in the 235 reported incidents.
It kind of makes one wonder why those who support our firearms freedom scoff any time an anti-gunner makes claims about how many crimes occur. They just use the reports that suit their fancy.
No doubt when it comes to talking about the next mass shooting, the gun control crowd will be throwing out statistics from Adam Lankford’s report, even though his numbers have also been debunked by the Crime Prevention Research Center.
The moral of the story is this: Don’t believe everything you read or hear without doing some independent research to look for the hidden data.