Misleading data, terminology skewing gun control debate

The recent mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas which left 19 students and two teachers dead, has sparked renewed debate over gun control and led to wild-eyed accusations from the left laying the blame for murdered children at the feet of Republicans, though many of their claims are grounded in highly misleading data, as Robby Soave writes for Reason.

In the wake of the aforementioned tragedy, NPR published an article asserting that this year alone has seen 27 school shootings, a statistic shared far and wide by those arguing for the passage of stronger gun control legislation.

Given the stark nature of such a statement, it is perhaps not surprising that there was an almost immediate groundswell from groups across the country for swift action designed to curtail the Second Amendment rights of Americans in an effort to prevent additional violence at schools.

However, as Soave notes, those discussing the problem of gun violence in the country – and particularly in educational environments – have been using “somewhat incautiously and interchangeably” the terms “school shooting, mass shooting, and mass school shooting.”

The key distinction as relates to recent events, as Soave explains, is that while the killings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde was indeed appropriately deemed a “mass school shooting,” while the other 26 incidents were not.

Many of the non-mass school shooting incidents were related to student disputes during or after athletic events, in parking lots, or elsewhere and while certainly problematic, should not be lumped into the same category as Uvalde-style massacres, particularly for the purposes of passing constitutionally questionable gun control legislation.

As Soave further noted, Scientific American published a review of mass school shootings conducted by a team of criminologists, and when defined as an event resulting in four or more deaths, the true tally of mass school shootings since 1966 came to 13, with a total of 146 lives lost as a result.

Though Democrats – including President Joe Biden – have cravenly attempted to demonize supporters of the Second Amendment and unfairly attribute to them some sort of callous indifference to the deaths of children, they have all too often done so by using confused and conflated data to disingenuously score political points.

While it is certainly easy to understand the desire of compassionate citizens to prevent the unfathomable loss of young lives in horrific events such as that in Uvalde, as Soave aptly declares, “for the policy debate to be fruitful, people need to understand the actual contours of the problem,” and the cynical manipulation of statistics must cease.