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CBC Radio (Canada) reported earlier this evening that the Florida shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School "was the 18th school shooting in the U.S. since the beginning of 2018.".

On its face this seems a bit unlikely; also due to the fact that these incidents tend to be widely reported in the media, and I have only heard of one school shooting so far in 2018 (in Kentucky). However a quick Google search shows this factoid also being reported by many media outlets in the US.

How is it possible that 16 school shootings have occurred so far this year in the USA and it has largely escaped public notice?

  • 1
    I wonder whether the media has been explicitly stating that there’s been 18 instances of a school kid “going postal”, or whether they’ve merely said statements that could reasonably be interpreted that way. – Andrew Grimm Feb 16 '18 at 14:39
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    @AndrewGrimm Problem is that a reproducible original source in the question is missing. For example time.com/5159039/florida-school-shooting-parkland just talks about incidents of fired guns at schools. The question asker might simply have misunderstood the claim. – Trilarion Feb 16 '18 at 14:48
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    Note that the Washington Post addressed this claim as well. – JeopardyTempest Feb 16 '18 at 18:26
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    Because a mass shooting in the USA is like seeing a soda vending machine in Japan. It's so commonly spread that it is hardly noticeable anymore. – Andrea Lazzarotto Feb 17 '18 at 14:42
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    @AndrewGrimm It varies, unsurprisingly, since "the media" is not a homogenous organization. For example, the BBC says "There have been 18 school shootings this year. Is it time to arm teachers?" which naturally reads as talking about any kind of shooting in a school, whereas the Independent says "This shooting in Florida was the 18th such event in an American school this year" which very strongly implies 18th school kid going postal. – David Richerby Feb 17 '18 at 15:49
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It depends on what you classify as 'school shooting' and most people would consider this number too high.

You can find an overview over 17 incidents (together with news sources) at:

everytownresearch.org

The list include all gun-related incidents near or in schools like:

A disagreement between two 16-year-old students escalated when Jonah Neal pulled out a handgun. School administrators noticed the weapon and tried to calm him; Neal then fled across campus. He was pursued by staff until he fired the gun four or five times into the air.

and also obvious accidents:

A criminal justice club student picked up a loaded gun, belonging to an advisor, which the student thought was an unloaded training weapon. She then shot at a wall target, unintentionally firing a bullet(...)

The coverage of these incidents without deaths is rather limited.

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    For someone from Europe these tales of casual gun use make horrifying reading. The combination of teenage hormones and lethal weapons is a nightmare. – Michael Kay Feb 16 '18 at 13:11
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    For decades the US had shooting clubs in schools without incident. – Mayo Feb 16 '18 at 16:54
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    @Mayo Was it really without incident, or just that it wasn't as widely reported or available as it is today? Today we instantly know when a significant mass shooting happens, and can look up the other school shootings, all thanks to the internet. At the time of shooting clubs, most of these incidents wouldn't be known beyond the local level. – Kevin Fee Feb 16 '18 at 17:06
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    @Mayo I hear that claim a lot - especially prefixed with "In my day..." and inevitably followed-up with a relevant, but rose-tinted, anecdote about how things were better some 40-50 years ago. I can't dismiss them because they could very well be true, but where is the actual (ideally statistical) evidence that school shooting-clubs and gun-culture in decades past were safer? – Dai Feb 16 '18 at 22:56
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    Joined this community to upvote the answer (objective and fact-based), and just to give my perspective --- any of these two "accidents" would have had national-wide resonance here in Spain. – Rmano Feb 17 '18 at 17:11
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In summary there appears to be at least 18 gun incidents in, or around, schools between 1st January and 14th February 2018. They are not all of the "mass shooting" variety one might expect from the headlines but they have certainly all involved the accidental or intentional letting off of a firearm.


A few notes

  • I count 17, not 18 The 18th has been found (H/T @BradC)
  • 2 were suicides
  • 3 others involved fatalities
  • 4 further incidents involved some injuries
  • The remaining 9 led to no injuries or deaths

This figure has been widely reported after the terrible incident in Florida on February 14th, 2018. That is one school shooting in 2018.

A quick rundown of others:


2nd Jan: LA teen accidentally discharges weapon – injures 4 people (How?!?)

A 12-year-old girl was booked on suspicion of negligent discharge of a firearm Thursday after a shooting at Sal Castro Middle School left four students injured, authorities said.Los Angeles police do not believe that the shooting was intentional, spokesman Josh Rubenstein said Thursday evening. - Los Angeles Times


3rd Jan: 31-year-old Michigan man commits suicide – happens to be at an elementary school

The Clinton County Sheriff's Office says a man who called 911 shot himself in the parking lot of East Olive Elementary School in St. Johns. Deputies were called to the former school just before 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon. The man had called 911, stated he was suicidal and told dispatch that he had a handgun with him. A Clinton County negotiator talked to the 31-year-old man from Potterville for several hours before the man took his own life. - WILX News 10


4th Jan: Shots fired off campus in Seattle enter the building – no injuries

Shots were fired and a bullet entered a building at New Start High School near Burien Thursday afternoon. King County Sheriff's Office officials said no one was hit or injured. Officials said a round was fired from outside of the school around 1:15 p.m. into the main administrative office. The office was occupied at the time. - KIRO-TV


10th Jan: Arizona teen commits suicide at school

The Cochise County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday a 14-year-old boy shot himself with a family member's firearm inside an elementary school bathroom in southern Arizona. Sheriff Mark Dannels said in a news release that investigators recovered the weapon in Tuesday's shooting from the bathroom at Coronado Elementary School - azcentral.com


10th Jan: Shots fired off campus happen to hit California State University building

Authorities say a gun was fired and a bullet hit a building on a Southern California college campus, but there were no reports of any injuries. Officials at California State University, San Bernardino said the gunfire was reported at about 6 p.m. Wednesday local time. San Bernardino police say the shot most likely came from just off campus and hit a window of the visual arts building on its west side. - CBS News


10th Jan: Accidental weapon discharge at Texas school – no injuries

School officials said a bullet from an accidental discharge went through a classroom wall, came out through the other side and exited through a window. It happened at the Grayson College Criminal Justice Center on Jan. 10. - KXII News 12


15th Jan: Person in Texas drove into a school parking lot, let off some shots, and crash into a wall. No injuries

The Marshall Police Department is investigating a shooting that occurred on the Wiley College campus. On Monday, January 15, at approximately 12:15 a.m., officers responded to the area of University Avenue near Wiley Avenue on reports of gunshots. Preliminary reports indicate that a black sedan entered the Strickland Hall parking lot and possibly exchanged gunfire with a person who was in the parking lot. It is believed the black sedan was occupied by two subjects. The suspects in the sedan crashed into a retaining wall, causing damage to the retaining wall and the vehicle. The vehicle left the scene prior to officers arrival. - KTBS 3


20th Jan: North Carolina university student shot and killed on campus

A Winston-Salem State University football player died after being shot at an event at Wake Forest University early Saturday morning. Najee Ali Baker, 21, was taken to a hospital and died, according to a Winston-Salem police press release. Police were called to The Barn, an event venue on the school's campus in the 1800 block of Wake Forest Drive, at about 1 a.m. after a gunshot was fired. - WTHI-TV 10


22nd Jan: Someone drives past and shoots at kids outside of a school. Injures one, not seriously

New Orleans Police are investigating a shooting outside of a Gentilly high school Monday (Jan. 22) that left one 14-year-old boy injured with a "superficial" abrasion wound. Police said someone in a dark pickup truck drove by The NET Charter High School, in the 6600 block of Franklin Avenue, and fired while a group of students were in front of the school, in the parking lot. The shooting took place about 1:30 p.m., principal Elizabeth Ostberg said. - NOLA.com


22nd Jan: In Texas a high school student opens fire in the school cafeteria injuring one

A 16-year-old boy is in custody after a shooting at a Texas high school cafeteria Monday morning that injured one student, authorities said. Just before 8 a.m. local time, police responded to reports of an active shooter at Italy High School in the town of Italy, about 50 miles south of Dallas. A 15-year-old girl was wounded in the shooting and airlifted to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, according to the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office. - The Washington Post


23rd Jan: Kentucky high school kid kills two at his high school

Two students were killed Tuesday and 18 other people were wounded when a 15-year-old boy armed with a handgun opened fire inside a Kentucky high school, authorities said. Terrified students ditched their backpacks and scrambled to get away, and within minutes of the shots' having been fired, sheriff's deputies were at Marshall County High School in Benton, where they disarmed the student and took him into custody, officials said. - NBC News


25th Jan: Two Alabama high school kids have a disagreement, one fires shots, nobody injured

Investigators said what started out as just a disagreement between two teenagers escalated to shots fired at Murphy High School. Mobile Police identified the student as 16-year-old Jonah Neal. Neal has been booked into Mobile County Metro Jail. - FOX10 News


31st Jan: Philadelphia Man dies outside (or near) a school after an altercation

A man has died following a shooting outside a Philadelphia high school. It happened around 3:50 p.m. Wednesday near Lincoln High School located in the 3200 block of Ryan Ave. Police say they were called out to the school for reports of a large fight and gunshots being fired in the parking lot.


31st Jan: Shots fired in a Michigan school carpark – no deaths

Shots were fired in the parking lot of Dearborn High School during a basketball game Friday night. Two individuals were involved in an altercation in the hallway, according to an email from Dearborn Public Schools Superintendent Glenn Maleyko. The individuals were not students of the school district and were reportedly "settling a score" from a previous encounter that occurred in another city. - WXYZ.com


5th Feb: Maryland high school student shot in the chest. Is "Critical" but leaves hospital a few hours later.

A teenage boy who was shot outside his high school this week was set up by an ex-girlfriend, charging documents say. Police have charged 17-year-old Zanaya Bryant and 18-year-old Anthony Hollingsworth with attempted murder and related charges in connection with the shooting. - NBC4 Washington


5th Feb: Minnesota third grader manages to pull the trigger of police officer's gun (I really shouldn't laugh at this should I?)

Nobody was injured Monday afternoon when a student at the Harmony Learning Center fired a school liaison officer’s gun, Maplewood police say. The officer was sitting on a bench talking with some students about 1:45 p.m., when a third-grader pressed the trigger of the officer’s holstered weapon, according to a news release issued by the Maplewood Police Department. The gun discharged through the bottom of the holster and a bullet struck the floor, the news release said. - Twin Cities


8th Feb: Gun fired in a Bronx classroom – no deaths

Police are investigating after a gunshot was fired in a Bronx school Thursday. It happened Metropolitan High School in the Longwood section around 3 p.m. Police responded to the call at 3:20 p.m. They found a bullet hole in the floor of a classroom inside the school. - ABC7


14th Feb: Florida shooting linked at the top of this answer

A former student unleashed a hail of gunfire in a Florida high school on Wednesday, killing at least 17 adults and children, authorities said. - CNN

  • 5
    @BurnsBA A bias to what? It was a little bit of semi-humerous commentary on a not-very-funny subject. An attempt at lightening the mood just a very little bit. If its offensive, i'll remove it but I seriously don't get how it shows any bias – Jamiec Feb 16 '18 at 14:27
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    "(I really shouldn't laugh at this should I?)" -- sometimes when you encounter the absurd all you can do is laugh – BurnsBA Feb 16 '18 at 14:46
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    Note that in the event of 3rd January, the man was on school district property that does not currently house a working school, but instead was a "closed" school. – Kevin_Kinsey Feb 16 '18 at 17:52
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    The Jan 3 incident was at an abandoned school. More here: washingtonpost.com/local/… – Mahmoud Al-Qudsi Feb 16 '18 at 21:32
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    Instead of tallying at the top how many resulted in injuries, it would be more useful to tally how many were likely intended to cause harm to students vs accidental or incidental, since that is at the crux of the implications from the claim. – Aleksandr Dubinsky Feb 19 '18 at 12:14
1

It all depends on your definition of "school shooting". As others have noted, if you use the definition of a firearm discharge at a school, the original statistic is correct. Parkland was the eighteenth incident of an unauthorized firearm discharge at a school in 2018. But that's not what we'd normally consider a "school shooting" in the context of Parkland or Columbine.

Axios used a different definition:

Since the Columbine High School massacre set off a nationwide moral panic in 1999, there have been 10 school shootings in which four or more people were killed. Including the death or suicide of the perpetrators, these mass shootings have resulted in 122 fatalities.

Parkland was the tenth school mass shooting in that list.

If you use a slightly different definition with their data, you can drop that down to six "school shootings" starting with Columbine. The revised definition is an event where four or more students are shot and killed at an elementary or high school, not including the perpetrator (who may or may not count as a student). This is because five of the Axios "school shootings" were universities or colleges. There were only sixty children (18 and younger; not including perpetrators) killed in those six shootings. Eleven of the victims were adults, and six of the seven perpetrators committed suicide. The other sixty fatalities were in the college shootings, including one where three instructors were killed.

Using either the Axios definition or the modification, Parkland is the only school mass shooting in 2018. The next most recent is either 2015 or 2014, depending on if universities are included.

  • Actually, if you use the definition of "a firearm discharge at a school", you get between 14 and 17. The January 3 incident took place at a former school, the January 4 and January 10 incidents took place away from schools, with stray bullets striking school buildings, and the January 31 Philadelphia incident may have taken place off of school property. – Mark Mar 30 '18 at 2:19

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