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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

School shootings are horrible — and very rare

Terrifying parents and children is not useful: School massacres are “exceptionally rare” events, writes John Tierney in City Journal. They “occurred more often in the 1990s than recently — but back then, there wasn’t an army of satellite trucks competing around the clock to chronicle the horror.”

Miah Cerillo, 11, survived the Uvalde massacre by smearing herself with a classmate’s blood to “play dead.”

“What’s increasing and is out of control is the epidemic of fear,” says James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University who has been tracking these events for decades.

Fox estimates “the annual odds that an American child will die in a mass shooting at school are nearly 10 million to 1, about the odds of being killed by lightning or of dying in an earthquake,” writes Tierney.

“The press and the White House’s fearmonger-in-chief” are promoting deceptive statistics, he writes.

“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.”

Robert VerBruggen analyzes how we could try to make schools safer — at the margins. He links to a RAND report that threat assessment, safe storage laws, waiting periods for gun purchases and removing guns from people under a domestic violence restraining order. On many policies, we don’t have much data, RAND concludes.

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