Most Reported School Shootings Never Happened

The headline sounds like something from a right-wing whack job but this is coming from NPR!

This spring the U.S. Education Department reported that in the 2015-2016 school year, “nearly 240 schools … reported at least 1 incident involving a school-related shooting.” The number is far higher than most other estimates.

But NPR reached out to every one of those schools repeatedly over the course of three months and found that more than two-thirds of these reported incidents never happened. Child Trends, a nonpartisan nonprofit research organization, assisted NPR in analyzing data from the government’s Civil Rights Data Collection.

We were able to confirm just 11 reported incidents, either directly with schools or through media reports.


Glad to see that NPR had the courage to report this finding. Of course, also very glad that there have been fewer school shootings than we had thought!

Ditto. There is also another gorilla in the room though. A lot of the statistics are shootings in schools that are A) not mass shootings and B) more akin to general criminal activity such as that related to drug dealing or gang activity that just happens to occur on school grounds.

Several anti-gun groups in recent years have been caught red-handed padding school shooting numbers with incidents like individual person-on-person criminal activity or suicides to help make their argument.

The fact is incidents like Sandy Hook or Columbine are actually quite rare, which is also why they gain the attention they do as well as impact our collective psyche.

Another tidbit that may be of interest to some of you...

The largest school massacre still in US history wasn't a school shooting but was, in fact, a bombing in 1927

Congratulations NPR, you did a good job.

This goes to prove Trump's point about twitter. People have thoughts and say words all the time that are not professional. Can the NYT stop reporting "tweets"? Or is actually proof positive they work in the exploitation industry.

Genuine fake news!

In this case the news was from Betsy Devos' (Trump admin) US Ed Dept.

But you see, it bolsters the argument that schools need to arm teachers - and not only against potential bear attacks.

Your observation makes the most sense since it was a Trump administration report. No other reason for them to pad the stats unless it furthered their agenda.

Maybe, but never discount the power of incompetence. Conspiracy requires effort and coordination. Incompetence? Not so much.

Sounds like they should start firing some people who fabricated the data.

the headline: "The School Shootings That Weren't" Sounds like a right-wing whack job? what? what would a better headline be?

That there were only 80 school-related shootings in one year is good news or bad news? I suppose it depends on the meaning of "is". And "school-related" shooting.

How did you come up with 80?

But NPR reached out to every one of those schools repeatedly over the course of three months and found that more than two-thirds of these reported incidents never happened.

A third of 240 probably is 80. Okay, less than a third will be less than 80.

They disconfirmed ~160, and actually confirmed 11. The rest are still unknown (but I wouldn't blame you for having a bias about them).

Confirmed eleven discharges of a weapon? Because that seems really, really low.

Another 2018 case from California - 'Two schools in Los Angeles were locked down for much of the day after authorities responded to gun shots and took a 12-year-old girl into custody. After interviewing her, police said it appeared that a firearm she brought to school went off unintentionally.

“This continues to be an active investigation; however at this time, the information suggests it was an isolated incident involving the negligent discharge of a firearm, where innocent children and a staff member were unfortunately injured,” the Los Angeles Police Department said in a press release.

The girl, whose name is not being released because she is a minor, was booked on suspicion of negligent discharge of a firearm. A classmate recounted her telling him that the gun went off when she dropped the backpack it was in, crying and repeating “I didn’t mean it”, the Associated Press reported of Thursday’s incident.' Of course, that was an accidental discharge with injuries, much like the California teacher who also injured students with an accidental discharge of his weapon.

This happened in Virginia - 'A school resource officer accidentally discharged his service weapon Tuesday morning at a middle school in Alexandria, Va., police said.

No one was injured in the incident.

It happened around 9:10 a.m. at George Washington Middle School in the 1000 block of Mount Vernon Avenue.

Alexandria police said in a statement that the officer discharged his weapon inside his office at the middle school. The officer contacted his supervisor and school staff.'

3 incidents involving a weapon discharge in a school (one without injury) in about 6 weeks - straightline extrapolation leads to somewhere around 25 such incidents in a year - none involving fatalities, and two of them involving school staff.

Again, the methodology seems to count discharge incidents, not victims. The ironic thing is, the more weapons in school, the more accidental discharges - leading to more of these 'shootings.'

Good detective work, indeed, 11 shootings is too low. The data is hacked by the NPR reported source. Obviously they're counting shootings involving deaths, or mass shootings, when in fact most shootings are survivable if it's a handgun not a rifle.

Further, from the blurb "two thirds" (66%) of the 240 incidents never happened, which means 33% did happen, or 0.33*240 = 80 shootings did occur, which is greater than the "11" reported, unless they are sampling just around 33 schools of the 240, which is arguably too low a sample. Something fishy about the NPA reported data indeed.

"Obviously they're counting shootings involving deaths, or mass shootings"

This is false.

""two thirds" (66%) of the 240 incidents never happened, which means 33% did happen"

Again, utterly false

Makes one wonder about those '1 in 4 women will be murdered on college campuses' or whatever they are that I keep hearing.

That faux-rape/murder-statistic is so glaringly ridiculous it was even parodied on Family Guy.

That people still toss it around and don't believe that if, it was in fact real, it would be a huge national crisis just goes to show you how dumb incoming freshman truly are.

Not as dumb as sitting U.S. senator Kirsten Gillibrand and the people who voted for her.

I stand corrected. 谢谢.

>...right-wing whack job but this is coming from NPR!

Which is staffed entirely by left-wing whack jobs.

+1 thank you. I was trying so hard to resist Alex's whack job trolling but appreciate you stating the obvious which had to be done. NPR has devolved into the Infowars for leftists.

"NPR has devolved into the Infowars for leftists."

If that's the case, I'm not sure you're listening to the same NPR or Infowars the rest of country is.

NPR loves America. Infowars loves Putin. Big Difference.

NPR loves urban America. FTFY.

Nothing really new, though the NPR article does seem to confuse discharging a weapon being the same as a 'shooting,' which tends to imply victims.

Because whether this incident would be included in such statistics is open to question - 'A California teacher who also serves as a reserve police officer accidentally fired a pistol inside his classroom while teaching about gun safety and injured three students, according to reports.

Dennis Alexander was teaching public safety awareness in his administration of justice class at Seaside High School when he fired a semi-automatic handgun and hit the ceiling, KSBW reported.

Teachers are not permitted to possess firearms in California schools.

The errant bullet ricocheted off the ceiling, sending out fragments that injured three students, including a 17-year-old who was struck in the neck, the boy’s dad, Fermin Gonzalez, told the station.'

And here is a Post article from February, 2018 detailing how ludicrous it is to use the Everytown for Gun Safety database. 'No, there haven’t been 18 school shootings in 2018. That number is flat wrong.

The stunning number swept across the Internet within minutes of the news Wednesday that, yet again, another young man with another semiautomatic rifle had rampaged through a school, this time at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in South Florida.

The figure originated with Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit group, co-founded by Michael Bloomberg, that works to prevent gun violence and is most famous for its running tally of school shootings.


It is a horrifying statistic. And it is wrong.

Everytown has long inflated its total by including incidents of gunfire that are not really school shootings. Take, for example, what it counted as the year’s first: On the afternoon of Jan. 3, a 31-year-old man who had parked outside a Michigan elementary school called police to say he was armed and suicidal. Several hours later, he killed himself. The school, however, had been closed for seven months. There were no teachers. There were no students.'

'there have been fewer school shootings than we had thought'

The number of dead and injured American students from school shootings remains unchanged, however. (Give or take a couple of students injured by their teacher discharging a weapon in front of them that is.)

My guess is that the discrepancy is hidden in the word "related". Whoever compiled the statistic in the first place was including shootings that didn't take place on school property, probably on purpose to inflate the statistic. I'd be more surprised if it was completely fabricated, but who knows?

Well, part of the discrepancy also comes from this - 'The government's definition included any discharge of a weapon at school-sponsored events or on school buses.'

The link above about a California teacher that discharged his firearm in a classroom in 2018 would fit that definition of a school 'shooting.' Discharging a weapon is much more common than 'shooting' - which is why the category 'accidental discharge' is recognized by police and military as a distinct category of 'shooting.'

Mainly, this just seems profoundly sloppy, particularly when one looks at the (intentional?) potential for conflation of very different circumstances.

Police reports are not compiled by anyone, then the Education Department can come up with any number.

From the article, it sounds like anyone paying attention already knew that the department of education numbers were nonsense (10x higher than other estimates, ACLU already investigated and found federal numbers were bunk, etc.) I had never heard this 240 number before; was it commonly referenced in the news? Now when I search for it, I basically find right-wing websites shouting about how *all* school shooting statistics are BS, which is not what NPR found.

Depends what they count. They will now close the school for the day if a 6-year-old kindergartener says he's planning to shoot someone (this has happened to us). Is that an "incident?" The taxpayers probably think so.

No surprise when someone bothers to look examines things closely the narrative falls apart.

Same with "terrorism." Mostly a media creation along with some false flags here and there.

The zero cases of accidental or intentional firing of smart guns clearly argues that only dumb guns should be authorized by any government because there would be no shooting to justify taxpayers paying to have dumb guns in schools based on the number of accidently fired of dumb guns?

As always, the solution here is to make it easier for people to purchase guns.

I’m all ears, what’s your proposal ?

Background checks won’t prevent this.

Children of single parent households are not allowed to buy firearms? That would close the gap between us and Bhutan.

Hmmm. My nephew was expelled from school a few years ago for playing with a Nerf-type gun that fired soft plastic bullets outside the school, but on school grounds. Police were called. I’m thinking this could easily have been one of those 240 “incidents”. I compare this to when I was a kid 40+ years ago and carried a shotgun in the back of my car to shoot squirrels after school. Wasn’t even a question back then, but would definitely get you arrested today. Seems the whole issue has become inflamed with hysteria nationally due to a relative handful of mentally ill copycat kids seeking attention.

It’s amazing how a few tragic copycat incidents with no real antidote, can consume so much attention. Shark attacks are in this same class. It’s a shame when perfectly avoidable tragedies like heart attacks (500K deaths per year) get so little.

The police were called when my daughter and 8-12 friends were throwing water balloons during summer break at the school. They were in the sixth grade. Three cop cars showed up. They warned her and her friends about the eye dangers of water balloons and told them that birds eat the remains and die.

The vice principal saw them through the video cameras that are set up. The kids never played at the school again which is probably by design. The powers that be have no problem disinhabituating kids from using school grounds, and see nothing wrong with it. Carceral feminism taken to its natural conclusion. Stop kids from playing because it may lead to _________, and lock up the school to keep kids "safe".

This is while paying over $20K in property taxes, just to make damn sure that the kids can't use public school properties when school isn't in session.

'just to make damn sure that the kids can't use public school properties when school isn't in session.'

Oddly enough, but in the mid 70s, it was considered to be trespassing to be on school grounds when school was not in session. For example, if you tried to play baseball at the baseball field, and anyone in the school building (think staff more than administration) noticed, you would be told to leave the school grounds.

Nothing new about school grounds not becoming playgrounds during summer break. The camera and cops aspect are undoubtedly more modern than a janitor telling a few kids to leave, reminding them that the baseball field is not a public park where they can play whenever they want.

My experience differs from yours. In the mid-70's we spent all summer playing baseball and a version of hide and seek on the grounds of a California public school. No one ever threatened us with trespassing. Heck, one of the regular players was the son of a local principal. If the elementary school field was used we went to the high school.

For a while, some teenager with a job at the parks & rec would be there to provide "supervised recreation" though I'm sure funding for that dried up in the 80's.

If a student has a panic attack when being told about Columbine, that's arguably "an incident involving a school-related shooting". It's even both an incident that really happened at the school, and a shooting that really happened. I wouldn't be surprised if, in most cases, the incidents people were thinking of when they answered "yes" to that question weren't events they'd describe as being shootings.

Unfortunately " Most school shooting deaths that were reported happened." But it never happens to "my" kids.

When official government reports make strong statements like: "Nearly 240 schools (0.2 percent of all schools) reported at least 1 incident involving a school-related shooting,
and over 100 schools (0.1 percent of all schools) reported a school-related homicide involving a student, faculty member, or staff member" which appears to be pure nonsense, how do the citizens know who to believe". A hundred homicides are significant and can justify big budgets to track this problem along with a lot of power over other people to control the problem.

All those who created false information should be fired. A government can survive or make rational decisions if its measures of reality are false.

As a business owner, I had one instantly fireable offense, providing false information (dry labbing me). I did catch one using statistical analysis on the data he was recording and turning in and I determined it was false. Humans aren't good a making up what should have been a random set of odd and even numbers read from instruments. He was fired. No data is much less dangerous than false data. With no data, you know that you don't know and with false data, you think you know but don't and that can get you in real trouble.

Fake news is real!

The Gun Violence Archive (, which appears to be fairly thorough and responsible, lists 2458 incidents that involve schools in the past 4 year period. I think the estimate of 80 (or 11) is too low.

"which appears to be fairly thorough and responsible"

Show your work?

"2458 incidents that involve schools"

Definition? Source?

+1 The web site cited doesn't seem to have data broken down by schools.

Whether it's 240 or 11 or whatever gun discharges (not deaths), it's a small number compared to all the other things that actually kill kids and young adults in that age group.

In 2016, for the 10-24 year age group, the number 1 cause was unintentional injury (~34,000), which is made up of mostly motor vehicle collisions and accidental poisonings.

34,000 deaths vs. max of 240 gun discharges.

The fact that we're passionately discussing school shootings just shows our innumeracy.

As I foreigner, I take it the fatality figures are pretty much right? That is, when they say on the news that two, three, four or whatever people were shot dead in a school in the United States that is correct? Because those figures are pretty much the only ones we get over here.

Yes, the death and injury figures are accurate. For example, there was a recent non-school mass shooting in Jacksonville, Florida that basically involved no one from Jacksonville, meaning that the local police are not all that interested in that event. Particularly as this article notes - 'By Tuesday afternoon, police shifted to a different act of violence in the city: a shooting last week at a high school football game left one teenager dead and two others injured. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said they had arrested a 16-year-old in that case.'

Note that such a shooting is just added for local color concerning an article talking about another mass shooting.

That's horrible. Glad we made it much harder to get a firearm here decades ago. A kid told me that he spends 75% of his time is class thinking about what he would do if there was a school shooting and this was in Australia where they basically don't happen. Kids fixated on school shootings and having relatively easy access to firearms seems like a very bad combination.

Most reports I see are stating the ban had no effect on shootings in Australia. Either way, that kid needs help.

It was a while back. He's a police officer now.

You probably need to read better reports. If a report says it's impossible to say for sure Australia's increased restrictions on firearms reduced homicide rates that's okay. However, to be honest, they gotta say, "But it sure looks like it."

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