ACTION ALERT: In 2018 the Number of US School Children Gunned Down Has Been Twice as High as Number of US Soldiers Killed in Combat
May 19, 2018
The Washington Post & Vox News & Vox News & Credo Action
The school shooting near Houston on Friday bolstered a stunning statistic: More people have been killed at schools this year than have been killed while serving in the military. America's firearm deaths total more than 32,000 each year. The number of American soldiers killed in all of 2017: 34. A new petition The petition -- directed to Republicans in Congress -- reads: "Put your constituents before the National Rifle Association. Take immediate action to pass gun control legislation."
2018 Has Been Deadlier for Schoolchildren than Service Members
Philip Bump / The Washington Post
(May 19, 2018) -- The school shooting near Houston on Friday bolstered a stunning statistic: More people have been killed at schools this year than have been killed while serving in the military.
Initial estimates put the number killed at Santa Fe High School at eight. (The death toll has since risen to 10.) The Washington Post compared that to figures for the military compiled from Defense Department news releases, including both combat and noncombat deaths. Even excluding non-students who died in school shootings (for example, teachers) the total still exceeds military casualties.
From Jan. 1 through May 18, there were 29 fatalities in 16 school shootings.
So far in 2018, there have been 13 service member fatalities in seven incidents. Seven of those casualties occurred in a helicopter crash in Iraq in March. Three of the total number of military casualties were not related to combat.
The higher number of deaths in school shootings is not usually the case. In 2017, the number of fatalities among service members was far higher than the number of people killed in school shootings, according to The Washington Post data.
A large part of the 2018 school fatalities was the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14.
The figures for 2018 do not suggest schools are more dangerous than combat zones. After all, there are more than 50 million students in public elementary and high schools and only about 1.3 million members of the armed forces.
That said, it is still the case that 2018 is shaping up to be unusually deadly at schools. Comparing the number of deaths and the number of shooting incidents this year directly with those through May 18 of 2017, that difference is stark.
In fact, there were 36 fatalities in school shootings in total through May 18 of each year from 2000 to 2017 -- only slightly more than there have been in 2018 alone.
Without the shootings in Florida and Texas, the figure is substantially lower. In 2000 through 2017, there were an average of two deaths in five or six school shootings through this point in each year. Without Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Santa Fe, the totals in 2018 would be four deaths in 14 incidents.
Is 2018 Really 'Deadlier For Schoolchildren Than Service Members'?
Robby Soave / Reason
(May 18, 2018) -- Today's tragic mass killing at Santa Fe High School, which left at least 10 dead, brings the total number of people killed in school shootings so far this year to 29.
That's more than twice the number of U.S. military service members who have died in 2018, which prompted The Washington Post to run with this headline: "2018 has been deadlier for schoolchildren than service members." Teen Vogue's Lauren Duca tweeted the story, adding "this is not what a civilized country looks like."
If the implication here is that being a student is riskier than joining the military -- well, that's highly misleading, if not flat-out wrong. As The Washington Post admits, five paragraphs into the article, there are 50 million kids in American K-12 schools and just 1.3 million military service people.
The raw school shooting casualty number is higher than the military fatality number at this particular point in 2018, but when we divide by the total number of people in each group, it remains the case that being a solider is 17 times more likely to result in death than being a student.
That doesn't mean the higher-than-usual number of school shooting victims this year is acceptable. But the Post headline channels readers' paranoia, inviting them to believe that sending their kids to school is more dangerous than signing them up for the Army.
This plays right into so many young people's fear that school shootings are likely and inevitable -- something many of the kids at the March for Our Lives Rally in Washington, D.C., told me explicitly -- when they remain quite rare
After Sandy Hook We Said 'Never Again.'
And then we let 1,686 mass shootings happen
German Lopez, Ryan Mark and Soo Oh / Vox News
(May 18, 2018) -- In December 2012, a gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and killed 20 children, six adults, and himself. Since then, there have been at least 1,686 mass shootings, with at least 1,941 people killed and 7,104 wounded.
The counts come from the Gun Violence Archive, a database that tracks events since 2013 in which four or more people (not counting the shooter) were shot at the same general time and location. The database's researchers comb through hundreds of news stories, police reports, and other sources each day and individually verify the reports.
Still, since some shootings aren't reported, the database is likely missing some shootings, and some are missing details. The count is also a constant work in progress, so some of the numbers and details may be slightly imprecise.
Vox's Soo Oh created an interactive map with this database. It shows the mass shootings that have been counted by the Gun Violence Archive since 2013, after the Sandy Hook shooting:
Are mass shootings increasing? It depends on which definition you use.
Using one common definition -- shootings at a public place in which the shooter murdered four or more people, excluding domestic, gang, and drug violence -- they appear to be getting more common, according to an analysis from Harvard School of Public Health researchers.
But not everyone agrees with this definition. Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox, for example, defines mass shootings more widely, as any shooting in which at least four people were murdered. Under those terms, mass shootings don't appear to be increasing.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health call the definition Fox uses too broad, since it catches domestic, gang, and drug-related shootings that aren't usually considered mass shootings in layman's terms.
The Gun Violence Archive's definition, which is what's used for the map above, is even broader than Fox's -- counting not just murders but injuries, too. So it counts all shootings in which four or more people were shot but not necessarily killed (excluding the shooter). That includes domestic, gang, and drug-related shootings in which four or more people were killed or wounded, as well.
Even under the Gun Violence Archive's broad definition, it's worth noting that mass shootings make up a tiny portion of America's firearm deaths, which total more than 32,000 each year.
And the US has way more gun violence than its developed peers: According to United Nations data compiled by Simon Rogers while at the Guardian, the US had 29.7 firearm homicides per 1 million people in 2012, while Switzerland had 7.7, Canada had 5.1, and Germany had 1.9.
But why does the US have so many more gun homicides than other developed countries? One possible explanation: Americans are generally much more likely to own guns.
The US makes up about 4.4 percent of the global population but possesses 42 percent of the world's civilian-owned guns. And the empirical research shows that places with more guns have more homicides.
Criminal justice experts widely recognize that America's unusually high levels of gun violence are a result of cultural and policy decisions that have made firearms far more available in America than in most of the world. For the US, that means not just more mass shootings, but more gun violence in general.
ACTION ALERT: Tell Republicans in Congress:
Thoughts and prayers are not enough. Gun control now.
The petition to Republicans in Congress reads:
"Put your constituents before the National Rifle Association. Take immediate action to pass gun control legislation."
(May 18, 2018) -- It's happening again. At least eight people were killed by gun violence in an American high school this morning and Republican leaders are offering nothing but their thoughts and prayers.
Their cowardly responses to the killings today at Santa Fe High School in Texas are the same they offered after Parkland, after Sutherland Springs, after Vegas, after Pulse and after Sandy Hook.
It is time for Republicans in Congress to join Democrats in standing up to the National Rifle Association and pass gun control legislation that will save lives.
Tragic mass shootings like the one today have become all too common. This is the 22nd school shooting and the 101st mass shooting this year. (1, 2) And while these mass events receive more media attention, we cannot forget the gun violence that strikes people, families and communities across the country on a daily basis, killing 5,400 and injuring almost 10,000 so far this year. (3)
There's one reason why politicians consistently fail to take real action on gun violence: the National Rifle Association.
The NRA has a chokehold on Congress that keeps most bills about gun control from even coming to the floor for a vote. Politicians beholden to -- or afraid of -- the NRA are willing to turn their backs on their constituents when it comes time to implement reasonable limits and controls on guns. But you can count on them for a "heartbroken" tweet about their "thoughts and prayers" when a tragic shooting makes the national news.
Finally breaking the NRA's chokehold on Congress will require massive grassroots pressure on our elected officials, demanding that they deliver more than thoughts and prayers in the face of our epidemic of gun violence.
The momentum after Parkland was a start. Today, we must continue to forcefully demand that Congress takes immediate action for gun control. Please add your name to our emergency petition now.
ACTION: Tell Republicans in Congress: Thoughts and prayers are not enough. We need gun control now!
Thanks for everything you do.
1. J Hanna, Dakin Andone and Keith Allen, "8 killed in shooting at Texas' Santa Fe High School, CNN affiliates report, CNN, May 18, 2018.
2. "Gun Violence Archive 2018," accessed May 18, 2018.
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