Wednesday, February 28, 2018

School Shootings are Not Getting More Common

An interesting study out of Northeastern University made little news today because it flies in the face of the common narrative.  The study was entitled, "Schools are safer than they were in the 90s, and school shootings are not more common than they used to be, researchers say".

While I always look for things that contradict what I think, or contradict the accepted wisdom, the mainstream media only wants to reinforce their narratives.  The work was done by James Alan Fox, the Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law, and Public Policy at Northeastern, and assistant Emma E. Fridel also of Northeastern University.

According to the study, mass school shootings were more common in the 1990s than this decade.
Four times the number of children were killed in schools in the early 1990s than today, Fox said.

“There is not an epidemic of school shootings,” he said, adding that more kids are killed each year from pool drownings or bicycle accidents. There are around 55 million school children in the United States, and on average over the past 25 years, about 10 students per year were killed by gunfire at school, according to Fox and Fridel’s research.
On a per capita basis, over the past 25 years, "about 10 students per year" works out to 0.18 deaths per million students per year.  Looked at that way, it really is rather safe in schools.   

You know that often-repeated lie that there have been 18 school shootings so far this year?  Dr. Fox brings the truth:
Since 1996, there have been 16 multiple victim shootings in schools, or incidents involving 4 or more victims and at least 2 deaths by firearms, excluding the assailant.

Of these, 8 are mass shootings, or incidents involving 4 or more deaths, excluding the assailant.
16 shootings in just over 21 years is a long way from 18 this year alone. 

This graphic, from the article, is a little tough to read, but each darker dot shows one person killed and each lighter dot shows one person injured.  Columbine stands out in 1999.  Sandy Hook in 2012 stands out for its extreme ratio of dark to light color.  The Stoneman Douglas shooting is on the far right (below the less-awful Kentucky school shooting).  Unfortunately, this graphic doesn't go to 1990, so that we could visually compare the early '90s to today. 

It's not just school shootings, which are the classic example of the kind of extreme story the media loves: bleeding children sell (Dana was right).  Mass murders as a general class have also been declining since the 1990s, just has violent crime in general has been declining.  

This graph is a little tougher to read because the vertical color bands are too similar, and it's a small dataset in time, but the bottom gray color shows non-shooting mass murders; at least 4 murder victims, excluding the assailant (all of these exclude the assailant).  The lightest "brick" color (on my monitor) represents a mass shooting; again, at least 4 killed.  The middle color is public mass shooting; with at least 4 victims - places like malls or transportation.  The darkest red is a mass school shooting with at least 4 killed.

I should point out that Dr. Fox is not a fan of the almost universally recommended approaches to fix the problem (which he doesn't see as a crisis).  He's opposed to hardening access control:
In addition to being ineffective, Fox said increased security measures of these kinds can do more harm than good. He called the suggestion to arm teachers “absurd” and “over the top.”“I’m not a big fan of making schools look like fortresses, because they send a message to kids that the bad guy is coming for you—if we’re surrounding you with security, you must have a bull’s-eye on your back,” Fox said. “That can actually instill fear, not relieve it.”
His co-author, Emma Fridel, said she's opposed to obviously armed guards (I am as well, but for different reasons; I think a random number of concealed carriers makes it harder than "just shoot the guard first").
After the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, schools across the country began holding active shooter drills in which they huddled together in a corner or hid under their desks. Such exercises—which may include someone walking around pretending to shoot students—can be very traumatic, Fridel said, and there is no evidence that they help protect students. “These measures just serve to alarm students and make them think it’s something that’s common,” she said.
Dr. Fox said that while he likes gun control he thinks nothing proposed will affect school shootings.
Banning bump stocks and raising the age of purchase for assault rifles from 18 to 21 are good ideas, and may lead to a decrease in overall gun violence, he said. But he doesn’t believe these measures will prevent school shootings. “The thing to remember is that these are extremely rare events, and no matter what you can come up with to prevent it, the shooter will have a workaround,” Fox said, adding that over the past 35 years, there have been only five cases in which someone ages 18 to 20 used an assault rifle in a mass shooting.
I heard of this study on Glen Beck's radio program today and searching for it tonight I can only find it in smaller and "new media" outlets.  We can take odds on whether a study like this would make it onto CBS/ABC/NBC/CNN/MSNBC/Fox and so on.  For now, we should spread it ourselves. 


  1. Fox & Fridel's statistics are unassailable; their logic is retarded.

    Their reasons for what they don't like are purely hysterical responses, and their hopes for what they think would work better are purely projection and irrational wishful thinking.

    Magical thinking is the sign of juvenile minds. In adults, it's a clinical psychosis.

    The number-crunchers should stick to them, alone; critical thinking and higher reasoning is still evidently beyond their capability.

    I'm not a fan of "making schools look like fortresses" either. I want them to be fortresses.

    Disneyland already does this, with no harm to anyone's delicate psyche. It has walls, a moat, gates, and more cameras per square yard than (Formerly Great) Britain.
    There are also about twenty times the number of armed guards, including cops, there per capita as there were at Parkland, even after the gunfire started there. Because Disney knows that if you put them there before the shooting, you don't have to deal with one at all.

    As for scaring kids, "Duck & Cover" was just a thing you did like a fire drill; I could give two sh*ts for the frail, feeble 2 out of 200,000 that will be emotionally scarred, if it saves a thousand times that the rest of their lives.

    Kids already know they "have a target on their backs" 24/7/365; "Stranger Danger" and so on have been drummed into them since before Kindergarten Cop was a runaway hit movie, twenty-seven years ago. The kids in that movie have kids old enough to go to Parkland High School now.

    And FFS, it's a school; their whole job there is to educate kids on how the world is, and works, so they can deal with it.

    If Fox/Fridel think that's no place to teach kids the right way about things that could save their lives, whereinhell do they think they should learn them? The Emergency Room and ICU after there's a bullet hole in their liver??

    Pointy-headed liberal academics gonna Stupid; it's what they do. The fact that we're all pleasantly aghast that they didn't fake the numerical data (cf. Anthropogenic Globull Warming shenanigans) this time out tells you everything about the state of statistics you need to know.

    Good survey, idiot conclusions.

    The authors can expect to be sent to the re-education gulag for their failure to maintain The Narrative, in short order. Academic Siberia is every bit as cold and lonely as the geographical one, as they'll find out any minute.

    1. In a way, their lack of sense about what to do reinforces the study. It proves they don't have a right wing bias.

      So even if such doctrinaire leftists as these two say there's no big crisis with school shootings, maybe we can have just a little sense about how to handle it.

      Trump made all the blood drain out of my face when he said, "I want to just take their guns. Due process takes too long" Maybe this can moderate that kind of response.

    2. They definitely don't have a right-wing bias, but also no brains, or much integrity.
      Their conclusions are unscientific codswallop.

      They could have simply stuck with the data, and left things as they are, without trying to make their obvious political conclusions sound like they have some basis in science.

      I'm a big fan of science.
      Philosophical scienceism in support of communism, not so much.
      How many shootings there've been is numbers; how to prevent them is policy far outside the realm of scientific inquiry, which is why they should have taken Will Rogers' advice, and not passed up "a good opportunity to shut up."

      As for Trump, his comment has been drastically taken out of context; he was referring to people making statements like the shooter did about wanting to be a "professional school shooter" and being dealt with proactively - (as he wasn't). He wasn't making a blanket policy statement, which is the impression you'd get from the 2-second attention-span crowd on our side.
      I'm not saying I agree with him even in that limited context, but it isn't as what it's being spun.

      CA does no such pro-active grabs.
      If you want my further take on that sort of nonsense, scroll back ten days or so:

  2. It really doesn't matter whether they pass any new gun law or no. Donald just killed any chance he had at reelection and put MANY of the more militant gun owners(and several moderates) on a war footing. He just made us all set up and realize that the "enemy" Is the federal government. As you said yourself. This is seen by many as a declaration of war. Or at leas as a warning not to be ignored. Yeh, Sig. I think a lot of people will take the rest of the week off to load mags.

    1. The thing about what Trump said is that I think it's what California and a couple of other states do now. If someone lodges a complaint about someone, they confiscate the guns and start the slow big wheels of process.

      You know how the legal escalation over harming children made allegations of child abuse a regular feature in divorces? Same thing will happen with guns and allegations of "not being all there".

      Got a neighbor mad at you over your dog/kids/cars/lawn/loud party or whatever? They'll call you in for being unstable. SWAT team takes your guns and maybe you get them back in 3 or 4 years.

    2. You made my point but I don't think you know it. This would be FEDERAL. At that point the real fanatics take to the hills and we just skip the whole "SWAT" thing. Instant civil war. Not one guy in LA but thousands and even millions in 47 states who think that they have nothing to lose but chains. We are teetering at the cusp of a nightmare. I don't know if this will push things over into open civil war. But it just might. I know a whole lot of pissed off hillbillies that would rather die fighting than live under anymore federal restriction. To them Guns' Bible and Kids are 100% off limits. They will be more than willing to start killing over a new gun law. Trump was DC's last chance. They blew it.

    3. No, I was trying to add content about the unintended consequences of creating a system where a simple allegation of being mentally unfit leads to confiscation.

  3. No civil war came out of attempted gun registration in Connecticut in 2014, instead 90% of the would-be victims simply ignored it. The state that formerly had the largest concentration of gun manufacturers. The state with the city named "Bridgeport". Can you imagine the reactions on TV if national gun confiscation was ignored as a bluff? Buy popcorn futures now while they're cheap.

    Anybody remember when OSHA decided it was going to regulate and inspect the home office?