Mass Shootings Are Not What You Think They Are

Uvalde
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It is difficult to write about mass shootings in the shadow of the heinous acts committed in Uvalde, Texas. My wife can barely listen to talk radio right now because she cannot stand hearing about what happened to those precious children trapped mercilessly in that classroom. 

The acts of that evil lunatic, however, are being used to advance certain false narratives. So, it requires us to understand what school shootings really are. Indeed, we need to understand what mass shootings really are. Examining the truths about school shootings and mass shootings is not to belittle what happened in Uvalde or anyplace else, but we must know. 

The fact is that a crazy, amped-up white guy entering a school blasting away is not the typical mass shooting, not even remotely. Education Week has kept track of school shootings since 2018 and has found a frightening 119 since then. They say there have been 27 so far this year, 34 in 2021, 10 in 2020, and 24 each in 2019 and 2018. You may be led to conclude that each of these were school invasions similar to Uvalde, Sandy Hook, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas. You would be wrong. 

Most of these shootings seem to be based on heat of the moment arguments and not deliberate targeting. 

  • On February 4, a 16-year-old was struck in the leg in the parking lot after a basketball game at Wenonah High in Birmingham, Alabama. 
  •  On January 2, two people were shot while sitting in the Auburn High School parking lot in Rockford, Illinois. 
  • On December 14, at Menchville High School in Newport News, Virginia, a 17-year-old was shot and killed in the parking lot after a basketball game. The shooter was from a rival school. 
  • On December 8, gunfire erupted in the parking lot of Ewing Marion Kauffman School in Kansas City, Missouri, during a basketball game. Two were injured. 

Almost all school shootings are like this. Again, this is not to downplay these tragic shootings, but these shootings are not invasions by killers set on Columbine-type mass murder. These are not the deliberate targeting of schools. They are the result of what appear to be rivalries or differences of opinion that turn violent; things that no amount of school hardening or teacher arming would necessarily prevent. 

The panic about mass school shootings seems similar to the day care sex abuse scare from many years ago and the ongoing stranger-danger scare. There was never an epidemic of child abuse in day care centers. And most child abductions are carried out by estranged family members and not by drive-by strangers. Yet you still see parents driving their kids to the end of the block and waiting with them to catch the bus. 

In the same way, mass shootings are not the story of public schools, even now. Most shootings in or around schools are arguments that turn violent. Though I would never send my kids to government schools, it’s not over fear of mass shootings. 

Back to the question of mass shootings, according to Statista, “Between 1982 and June 2022, 68 out of the 129 mass shootings in the United States were carried out by white shooters. By comparison, the perpetrator was African American in 21 mass shootings, and Latino in 11. When calculated as percentages, this amounts to 53 percent, 16 percent, and 8.5 percent respectively.”

This is wrong in so many ways. 

This vastly undercounts the number of mass shootings. If you define mass shooting as any that claims four victims, public reporting shows there were 637 mass shootings in 2021 alone. What’s more, 74 percent of them were carried out by blacks. Only 12 percent were carried out by whites. Latinos were accused of 12 percent and Asians only 2 percent. The numbers may be different since the overwhelming number of shooters go unidentified. Of the 637 mass shootings in 2021, only 227 perpetrators are known. I suspect the demographic breakdown would be similar. 

The typical mass shooting does not comport with the dominant narrative. He is not a white guy invading a school or business, killing as many people as he can, and then killing himself. The perpetrator in most mass shootings aims wildly, mostly wounds rather than kills, then runs away. 

According to mass-shootings.info, which relies exclusively on newspaper and television reporting, 20 percent of mass shootings in 2021 took place on a street or road, 19 percent at parties, 17 percent in parking lots, 15 percent at houses, 11 percent unspecified, 10 percent at bars or nightclubs, 5 percent at parks/playgrounds/beaches, and 3 percent at memorial vigils. Schools are not mentioned because, according to Education Week, the victim count is usually quite low and mass shootings, like Uvalde, are quite rare. 

Among the many problems with undercounting and getting the race wrong is they ignore the fact that most victims of mass shootings are black, not white. Even the New York Times recognized this in a 2016 story called “A Drumbeat of Multiple Shootings, but America Isn’t Listening.” These are the shootings that take place practically every single day in America. The streets of Chicago, St. Louis, Baltimore, really any big city, are the scenes of bloody carnage that the Left does not want us talking about. 

When the Left is driving a narrative, they almost always have us looking the wrong way. In this case, they want us looking away from the inner cities and toward the deliberate targeting of schools that are, in comparison, quite rare. The danger is that public policy made in the glare of tragedy and lies is almost always wrong. 

[Photo Credit: AFP via Getty Images]

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Austin Ruse is a contributing editor to Crisis Magazine. His latest book, Under Siege: No Finer Time to be a Faithful Catholic, is now available from Crisis Publications.

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