There was a school shooting this week. It was a familiar scene. Reporters frantically reporting scant details, students filing out in panicked lines, parents standing behind police tape hoping that they would see their child again. We’ve seen it before. So many times before. Or maybe we haven’t. It depends which news outlet you watch and how they’re willing to define school shooting. Shortly after the shooting in Oregon was confirmed, a number began to circulate on the internet. 74. It’s the number of school shootings since Newtown, as compiled by Everytown for Gun Safety. Now, they’re an anti-gun group so yeah. There’s bias. But they’re nice enough to clearly post their definition of “school shooting” on their website.
Incidents were classified as school shootings when a firearm was discharged inside a school building or on school or campus grounds, as documented in publicly reported news accounts. This includes assaults, homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings. Incidents in which guns were brought into schools but not fired there, or were fired off school grounds after having been possessed in schools, were not included.
Pretty straightforward, no? If a gun goes off on school property, it is a school shooting. Because if a gun goes off on school property we have all the ingredients I mentioned above: the evacuated students, the reporters, the praying parents.
We also usually have a situation wherein an underage person got their hands on a gun through means that are semi-legal at best, but that’s another rant.
Most of us heard that and were busy thinking “Wow. 74 school shootings in 18 months. That’s fucked up. Canada has had zero. And Australia. And England. And Japan.” But the geniuses at CNN, the network that brought us non-stop coverage of lapping waves and speculation about flight 370, decided to get attention by trying to debunk the tally of school shootings.
In an article originally headlined as “A Closer Look : How Many School Shootings Since Newtown“*, CNN made motive an issue in deciding whether a shooting really counts as a school shooting. Spoiler alert: only shootings that were random violence in the mode of Columbine made the cut. The rest were “personal arguments, accidents and alleged gang activities and drug deals.”
Oh I see. Those shootings aren’t real shootings. They’re, like, personal. You know, like someone bringing a gun onto school grounds and shooting one person because they’re pissed at them. Or it’s a drug deal and druggies deserve to be shot. Or, like, gangs. You know what I mean? C’mon. GANGS. Get it? Gang members are like…not white kids. So, those shootings aren’t as shoot-y as when a white kid loses his shit and randomly plows down his classmates with a gun.
Ahem. I’ll turn the sarcasm off now.
Look. When a bullet gets discharged on school property, we have the police tape and the terrified parents and all the rest of the familiar elements of horror that we have all seen so many times. It doesn’t matter why. It doesn’t matter who. What matters to me, as a parent, is that guns are being fired in the places our children go to learn. I don’t care who is pulling the trigger. I just want it to stop happening.
*CNN amended the headline to read “A Closer Look: How many Newtown-Like Shooting Since Sandy Hook”. Here’s a graphic of the two headlines.