This spring the Department of Education released a report on the number of school shootings that occur every year. The report claimed that from August 2015 through June 2016, a staggering 240 schools had an incident where a student fired a gun. That means on average one shooting took place everyday of the school year. It’s a mind-boggling statistic except for one problem. Most of these incidents never occurred.
This Monday NPR released a story about the number of school shootings that actually did occur. They found the federal government’s numbers were higher than any other organizations’ findings. Even the gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety only found 29 shootings occurred during the 2015-2016 school year.
Over the summer, NPR called every school that had supposedly reported a school shooting and confirmed only 11. Less than five percent of the reported incidents could actually be verified.
How could such an error occur? For one thing, a lot of these incidents just never happened. Many school districts have no idea how shootings got reported for their districts. In the Ventura Unified School District, a supposed 26 incidents occurred.
“I think someone pushed the wrong button,” said Ventura’s assistant superintendent Jeff Davis. Ventura’s outgoing superintendent “has been here for almost 30 years, and he doesn’t remember any shooting.”
The Department of Education also seems to have misinterpreted the schools’ reports. In the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, 37 incidents of simple “possession of a knife or firearm,” were interpreted as school shootings.
In NPR’s story, there are many more examples of data being misreported as school shootings. The error comes from poor data collection practices and government bureaucracy at the federal level. As of this date, the Department of Education has made no effort to revise the data or to republish new results.
Everyday, the gun-control lobby fills the airwaves with endless statistics on gun violence in America. These statistics are meant to shock and galvanize the public into enacting harsher laws on gun owners. Yet like all statistics, they are easily manipulated, and as NPR proved, may not be true at all.
Any school shooting is a tragedy. We want to do whatever is necessary to make sure students feel safe. Yet before we punish law-abiding gun owners, we need to figure out what the facts really are.
What do you think? How else does the gun-control lobby use statistic manipulation for their cause? Let us know in the comments below. You can read the report, here.