In the last week alone, the nation has been rocked by two extremely violent, horrific, and disgusting acts of mass murder. In total, between the shooting in Buffalo, NY, and Uvalde, TX, more than 30 innocent people have been slaughtered. It is also true that according to the FBI, the number of active shooter incidents in the United States has risen significantly since 2020.
So far, in 2022, that number is increasing as well, and we are on our way to chalking up a very deadly year. The factual data and clearly observable incidents are enough to shock the conscience of many. Because this actual data is worrisome enough, one would think that the corporate press wouldn’t need to skew data in an attempt to scare you. However, one would be wrong.
NPR wasted no time stirring hysteria among the masses by running with an article that states there have been a whopping 27 school shootings this year. Naturally, seeing such a startling number would drive a person to click the article and perhaps come to the conclusion that we are being overrun by an epidemic of school shootings.
This is perhaps what the largely anti-gun journalists at the NPR would like as fear is a good motivator for people to give up their rights. Stoking fear about gun violence provokes a knee-jerk reaction that allows politicians to prey on citizens and get them to support measures they may otherwise oppose. While it is pure speculation that NPR has this motive in mind, their article incites such an effect, regardless of actual intention.
“27 school shootings have taken place so far this year,” NPR’s headline reads. To someone who is just now paying attention, they may actually believe that they have somehow missed out on the 26 other mass school shootings that unfolded but that’s not what happened. Manipulative semantics are afoot.
NPR is lumping the extremely tragic mass school shooting in Uvalde with other shootings at schools which were not deadly, not mass shootings, and certainly not mass casualty events like what took place in Uvalde.
As Reason Magazine points out, definitions matter and NPR attempting to associate mass school shootings with other gun incidents at schools is not accurate as there is a major difference:
The difference is significant. Education Week, which tracks all school shootings, defines them as incidents in which a person other than the suspect suffers a bullet wound on school property. Many of the 26 previous shootings involved disputes between students in parking lots, or after athletic events, and all of them resulted in one or zero deaths. These deaths are still incredibly tragic, of course. But they are fundamentally unlike what happened in Uvalde.
Uvalde is a mass school shooting. This is defined in different ways too: an incident in which at least four people (some counters make it three) are shot and/or killed. The Gun Violence Archive counts incidents in which at least four people were shot. Under this definition, many incidents of street crime and domestic violence count as mass shootings, even if no deaths result. A stricter tally of mass school shootings, conducted by criminologists for Scientific American, only includes incidents where the shootings resulted in at least four deaths. Using their criteria, the number of mass school shootings in the U.S. since the year 1966 is 13. These crimes claimed the lives of 146 people in total.
Thirteen mass school shootings in the last 56 years is far less sensational than 27 school shootings so far this year — which is likely the reason NPR chose to abstain from reporting these facts. Nevertheless, their article has incited both an irrational fear of a problem that doesn’t exist, as well as stoked further ignorance.
As Reason reminds us, “one-off gun incidents are a serious problem in the U.S., and those taking place at schools are no exception. Mass casualty events, on the other hand, constitute less than 1 percent of all gun deaths. Suicides and non–mass-casualty murders—usually carried out with handguns rather than assault rifles—constitute the overwhelming majority of gun crimes.”
There is no question that there must be a discussion on how to prevent further horrifying events like what happened in Uvalde but until we can be honest with each other and face reality, that discussion will never happen.
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