Students head back to school today for the first time since a former student entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida with an AR-15 assault rifle, opened fire and started a massacre that claimed 17 victims. The wound is fresh for the whole country, and the pain feels all too familiar, leaving many questioning how many school shootings in 2018 have happened, and how many more will come before we finally see a change.
The massacre resparked the gun control debate, which had simmered in the months since the Las Vegas shooting late last year that killed 58 people and wounded hundreds more at the Route 91 Harvest festival.
Tragedies like this certainly feel like they’re occurring more frequently, but is that reality or simply a by-product of the heinous nature of and deep pain caused by school shootings? Metro looks into how many school shootings in 2018, and whether frequently cited stats about school shootings are accurate.
How many school shootings in 2018 so far?
Asking for a number on this subject is, surprisingly, not so straight-forward. Tweets about how many school shootings in 2018 flew thick and fast in the wake of the Parkland tragedy, with many tossing around 18 as the final answer, including Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Maybe, just maybe, after 18 school shootings in America in just 43 days of 2018 the Congress might want to consider common-sense gun safety legislation and save innocent lives.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 14, 2018
“Maybe, just maybe, after 18 school shootings in America in just 43 days of 2018 the Congress might want to consider common-sense gun safety legislation and save innocent lives,” the Independent senator wrote the same day as the massacre. But is 18 actually right? It seemed so, with some tweets even featuring a map of the United States, pinpointing the sites of each of these tragedies.
18 School Shootings since January 1st, 2018. That averages about 3 per week so far, THIS YEAR. Something must be done, because we shouldn’t be have to live in fear like this. pic.twitter.com/1uTxLwXJbV
— bkayy (@brooklynn_kayy) February 15, 2018
But the answer to the question, how many school shootings in 2018 is not 18 — at least not by the standards of what we typical mean when we refer to a “school shooting.” This figure, according to Snopes, comes from Everytown’s tally of school shootings since 2013. The problem is, they’re including incidents on school grounds involving firearms that don’t resemble massacres like Parkland.
This much-cited figure includes a suicide at a school that had been closed for three months and three different occasions of the accidental discharge of a weapon on school property. Eight of the events counted in their figure didn’t lead to any injuries, let alone deaths. Only seven of these incidents, Snopes reports, “were intentional shootings that occurred during normal school hours.”
Some Twitter users, including Bernie Sanders, walked back their previous claims — but the 18 school shootings number still spread around the Internet.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 16, 2018
A different tally came out from The Washington Post, but by their implied definition, someone had to have been injured or killed during the incident for it to be considered a “school shooting” and included in the figure. They put the number at five since January 1, 2018.
Answering how many school shootings in 2018 depends largely on how you define such a tragedy. Are suicides school shootings? Does anyone have to be injured, and must they be injuries sustained from the gun? The count, then, depends on you.
Perhaps the only thing we can all agree upon is something Sen. Sanders tweeted in his correction: “one school shooting is too many.” Even if no one is injured, even if a gun is accidentally discharged, it tears apart the sense of security that students (and staff) should be entitled to when they enter the classroom or even step foot on school grounds.
For a complete breakdown of the 18 incidents involving firearms on school property that have occured in 2018, refer to the comprehensive lists created by Snopes.