Lying About School Shootings

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By Charles C. W. Cooke,

from National Review Online,

This map, which purports to show that there are have been 74 “shootings at schools” since the abomination at Newtown, is currently doing the rounds.

The Washington Post is admirably clear [in its report] that the map includes both colleges and schools, that it counts “any instance in which a firearm was discharged within a school building or on school grounds,” and that the data isn’t “limited to mass shootings like Newtown.” This point has also been made forcefully by Charles C. Johnson, who yesterday looked into each of the 74 incidents and noted that not only did some of them not take place on campuses but that “fewer than 7 of the 74 school shootings listed by #Everytown are mass shootings,” that one or more probably didn’t happen at all, that at least one was actually a case of self-defense, and that 32 could be classified as “school shootings” only if we are to twist the meaning of the term beyond all recognition.

And that, of course, is precisely what the map’s creator is doing. The point here is not to tell the truth, but to get out the “74 school shootings since Newtown” figure and to turn it into conventional wisdom before anybody can check if it’s actually correct. This is why, on its website, Everytown for Gun Safety introduces the map with the simple claim that,

Since the December 2012 shooting in Newtown, CT, there have been at least 74 school shootings in America. How many more before our leaders pass common-sense laws to prevent gun violence and save lives?

This is why it hides its disclaimer at the very bottom of a long and detailed page. And it is why it includes no such qualifications at all on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, on which Everytown merely mentions “the 74 school shootings since Newtown,” claims that “Reynolds High School is the 74th school shooting since Sandy Hook,” and puts out misleading graphics such as this one:

Alas, the ruse appears to have worked. Yesterday, these claims were widely repeated — and almost always without context or clarification. When you can’t win honestly, I guess you just lie.

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