It's been popping up on my Facebook feed; a map showing where school shootings have occurred since Sandy Hook. One of the moms in my feed wrote "my heart hurts" while another wrote angry comments about the National Rifle Association. Yet another asked "when will it be enough?"
While I'm a fierce defender of the Second Amendment and a gun owner myself, I truly understand why these moms are angry. They're freaked out, feel powerless, angry and many are still haunted by the images of parents running to the Sandy Hook school that horrible morning. Many (myself included) can't stop thinking about how terrifying it must have been for those children. Understandibly, some want action. And one look at that map tells these nervous moms one thing: the problem has gotten worse! As the map shows, there have been74 "little Sandy Hooks" all across America since the Newtown tragedy.
But, is that really what the map shows? Have there been this many school shootings since that horrible day in 2012?
Well, not exactly. Moms will be reassured to know that the mapmaker got a little creative with his/her design.
… the map includes both colleges and schools, that it counts “any instance in which a firearm was discharged within a school building or on school grounds,” and that the data isn’t “limited to mass shootings like Newtown.” This point has also been made forcefully by Charles C. Johnson, who yesterday looked into each of the 74 incidents and noted that not only did some of them not take place on campuses but that “fewer than 7 of the 74 school shootings listed by #Everytown are mass shootings,” that one or more probably didn’t happen at all, that at least one was actually a case of self-defense, and that 32 could be classified as “school shootings” only if we are to twist the meaning of the term beyond all recognition.
And that, of course, is precisely what the map’s creator is doing. The point here is not to tell the truth, but to get out the “74 school shootings since Newtown” figure and to turn it into conventional wisdom before anybody can check if its actually correct.
I feel so bad for moms out there who read this stuff and think "my children will never be safe. I can never keep them safe." It's no fun feeling powerless and afraid. But that's exactly the point and the goal of Moms Demand Action, who are promoting this map–to make women feel this way. The map is specifically designed to mislead and scare concerned moms in order to get them to back gun control initiatives.
It's too bad Moms Demand Action feels its necessary to lie to women. But then, they understand that fear is a powerful tool.