Of all the senseless crimes in this country, school shootings are the most shocking and least explainable. The June 10 violence at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Ore., was no different. The mass shooting left one student dead and a teacher wounded before the 15-year-old killer took his own life.
But the shooting and its resulting media coverage presented a new window for gun-control opportunists to push their agenda. Soon after the Reynolds attack, Everytown for Gun Safety, the group founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, announced there had been 74 school shootings since the December 2012 mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. The statistic quickly spread across the Internet and social media, and President Barack Obama cited it in an interview, saying the country sees more than one school shooting a week.
But the numbers were misleading because they included gang crimes, incidents that took place when a school was closed and suicides, and they included college shootings. In reality, there had been just 10 incidents with an active shooter or someone who intended to commit mass murder since Sandy Hook. That’s 10 too many, but nowhere close to 74.
Two days after the Reynolds shooting, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the results of its annual Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The share of students threatened or injured with a gun, knife or other weapon on school property had fallen to 6.9 percent, down more than 2 points from its peak of 9.2 percent in 2003. And James Fox, a criminology professor at Northeastern University, told PolitiFact this month that the number of annual gun deaths at schools and colleges has not substantially changed since Sandy Hook, since the Columbine massacre, since 1992.
It’s disturbing that every school must prepare for an active-shooter scenario. But it doesn’t fit the gun-control talking points to point out that doing so has made safe schools even safer.