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Expert: ‘School shooting’ report released to Congress is a ‘misinformed, misguided scare tactic’

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Gun control proponents are pushing their agenda with alarmist data that seek to misinform the public.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America released to Congress an analysis of recent school shootings, citing some startling figures.

“In the 14 months since the [Sandy Hook Elementary School] shooting, at least 44 shootings have happened in schools,” the Feb. 12 report said. “That’s an average of three a month — and in the first six weeks of 2014 alone, there were 13 school shootings.”

Of the shootings, 28 resulted in fatalities — an average of two per month, or 24 per year.

Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox, who has studied school violence and co-authored “Violence and Security on Campus: From Preschool through College,” wrote in a USA Today column Monday:

One need not read very deeply between the lines to get the intended message: Our nation’s schools continue to be personal battle zones for gun-toting teens and post-teens, and we need to act fast before more young lives are needlessly and senselessly sacrificed to our country’s love affair with guns.

What I find so disturbing about the moms and mayors report is not just the tallies of homicides, suicides and other shootings in schools, but the complete lack of any context for interpreting these figures.

Even one death is one too many, Fox acknowledged, but he pointed out that the implied message from the two groups — that school shootings are on the rise — isn’t supported by fact. The numbers have actually declined since the era of gang violence two decades ago.

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“And, as added perspective, consider that there are more than 50 million school children in America, making the risk of fatality well below one in two million,” he wrote. “By comparison, many times more youngsters are killed annually in bicycle accidents.”

Kid on bike
Photo credit: www.bikehub.co.uk

He’s right. A total of 677 bicyclists were killed by motor vehicles in 2011, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “The 14-and-younger age group accounted for 9% of those fatalities, and males accounted for 69% of the fatalities among pedal-cyclists age 14 and younger,” the administration report said.

That 9 percent amounts to 61 deaths for the year, compared to an average of 24 firearm deaths on school campuses.

“I applaud the work of both the moms and the mayors,” Fox wrote. “I admire their passion and generally concur with their positions. However, I find their latest strategy to be a misinformed and misguided scare tactic.”


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