School shootings are horrific and heartbreaking but statistically rare

“Why are we willing to live with this carnage?” Biden asked in his speech after the Uvalde killings, portraying them as the continuation of a decade of ceaseless slaughter by citing the “900 incidents of gunfire” on school grounds since 2012. But few students died in these incidents, which typically occurred outside the school building and often involved non-students going there after school hours. When Fox totals the number of students killed by any sort of gunfire at school in the past decade, including the victims in Uvalde, it works out to 10 deaths per year—among more than 50 million students. “Hundreds of children die every year in drowning accidents,” he says. “We need lifeguards at pools more than armed guards at schools.”

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Journalists are similarly deceptive when they call Uvalde the 27th “school shooting” of this year, or classify the spree in Buffalo as one of the hundreds of “mass shootings” in America annually. But these “mass shootings” typically don’t result in more than one death, if that, and the ones with multiple fatalities typically involve family disputes at home, gang conflict, or other criminal activity like drug dealing or robbery. They’re not random attacks like that in Buffalo, which meets Fox’s criteria for a “mass public shooting”: one in a public place with at least four fatalities and not related to domestic violence, gang conflict, or other crimes. On average, a half dozen of these occur annually. Mass public shootings at schools are much rarer: a total of 12 in the past 34 years.

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