How Everytown Pads its School Shooting Numbers
Media outlets widely reported the org's numbers as facts—the list included accidental discharges, suicides, and even an armed robbery.
Every time the mainstream media reports on a mass shooting or a school shooting, they eventually will attempt shock viewers with some monstrous number, as in: “there have been 28 school shootings this year” or what Jeff Greenfield said in a Tweet in February: “In the rest of the world, there have been 18 school shootings in the last twenty years. In the U.S., there have been 18 school shootings since January 1.”
That tweet garnered more than 130,000 likes.
It comes at no surprise that these numbers aren’t exactly accurate…at all.
According to this story from Politifact, the numbers cited by Greenfield came from the infamous anti-Second Amendment group, Everytown for Gun Safety. The numbers was repeatedly reported by various news outlets, including TIME, Politico, CNBC, the New York Daily News, and HuffPost.
Everytown, run by multi-billionaire and ex-New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, uses an extremely broad definition for school shooting.
According to the story, Everytown defines a school shooting as “any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building, or on a school campus or grounds. It’s database includes incidents incidents when no one was injured; attempted or completed suicide with no intent to injure others, and cases when a gun was discharged accidentally, resulting in injury or death.”
The list also includes incidents on college campuses, which can be quite large.
One of the most glaring examples of Everytown’s padding of statistics is the incident the organization calls the first school shooting of 2018, which occurred on January 3.
A man committed suicide in the parking lot of the East Olive Elementary school in St. Johns, Michigan. Politifact found that the building didn’t have any students in it at the time. It wasn’t even being used as school—in fact, it had been shut down more than six months earlier.
There are numerous other examples from the story:
• “Unidentified shooter fired shots into a building. No injuries.”
• “Student committed suicide in bathroom. No other injuries.”
• “Gunshots, most likely fired from off campus, hit a campus building window. No injuries.”
• “Individual ejected from game for fighting was shot at in parking lot. No Injuries.”
• “Student fired into the air outside school after argument in school. No injuries.”
Everytown even included a Feb. 5 incident in which a student was wounded in a school parking lot during a robbery.
These examples are all lumped together with actual school shootings, like the horrible attack that killed 17 at Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida on Feb 14.
Of the 18 incidents listed by Everytown, only three were actual school shootings. Nine of the other incidents involved no deaths or injuries, two were suicides with no other injuries, and three were accidental discharges, one of which caused an injury.
As for the other part of Greenfield’s statement regarding school shootings in the rest of the world, he told Politifact that he “couldn’t recall the source of that information, adding ‘yes, I cop to insufficient research.’”