Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Washington Post Advice Columnist Gets it Right on Irrational Fear of School Shootings

Friday, October 26, 2018

Washington Post Advice Columnist Gets it Right on Irrational Fear of School Shootings

These days the cynical adage “if it bleeds, it leads” seems as applicable to the news media as ever. This is all the more reason that Washington Post advice columnist Carolyn Hax should be applauded for a recent piece where she sought to quell her readers’ out-sized fears about school shootings. Titled, “Apply the empirical method to your school-shooting anxieties,” Hax urged her readers to take a moment to look at the facts about school shootings before succumbing to fear.

In the column, a parent of a kindergartner told Hax, “I am just a wreck every time I see news about a school shooting.” The Parent went on to explain “I know there are daily risks in life (getting in a car, etc.) but I am having a really hard time with the possibility that something fatal could happen to her at school,” and asked “I'd love to hear thoughts on how to deal with this anxiety.”

In the opening of her response, Hax didn’t mince words, writing, “Throw facts at your anxiety, because it is in fact irrational.” Hax explained,

Something fatal can happen to all of us anywhere — and does, eventually — but the likelihood of any U.S. child dying by any cause is very low. When something bad does happen, it is typically accidental; you brush past the “daily risks” but the numbers are much grimmer for that car trip than for any school day. School shootings are more terrifying because they’re outside our daily risk trade-offs — such as, do we stick only to places we can walk, or accept the risk inherent in vehicle travel?

The simple truth is that school shootings are extremely rare.

In another excellent piece published in the Washington Post last March, Harvard Instructor David Ropeik explained just how vanishingly rare such incidents are. Walking readers through the numbers, Ropeik noted,

The Education Department reports that roughly 50 million children attend public schools for roughly 180 days per year. Since Columbine, approximately 200 public school students have been shot to death while school was in session, including the recent slaughter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. (and a shooting in Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday that police called accidental that left one student dead). That means the statistical likelihood of any given public school student being killed by a gun, in school, on any given day since 1999 was roughly 1 in 614,000,000.

As one writer for the New York Times put it, “A school can expect a shooting once every few thousand years.”

Moreover, despite the prevailing news media narrative, school shootings are not becoming more common. In fact, according to research from Northeastern University Professor of Criminology, Law, and Public Policy James Alan Fox, schools are safer than they were in the 1990s.

A February piece for Northeastern.edu that summarized Fox’s work quoted the professor as follows,

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.

The trouble many Americans have in accurately evaluating the prevalence and risks of violence extends beyond school shootings. Polling routinely shows that Americans believe crime is worsening, even as it has trended downwards.

Given the obvious difficulty many have in evaluating risk, and much of the news media’s alarmist bent, it is incumbent upon those who have been exposed to the facts to share their knowledge with others. Hax’s call to reason should help some to better understand the realities of school shootings, and in a small way help inject some much needed sanity into the school safety debate.

IN THIS ARTICLE
school safety
TRENDING NOW
Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

NRA Achieves Historical Milestone as 25 States Recognize Constitutional Carry

News  

Friday, April 1, 2022

NRA Achieves Historical Milestone as 25 States Recognize Constitutional Carry

Half the country will now enjoy the freedom to carry a handgun for self-defense without a permit from the state thanks to the tireless efforts of men and women of the National Rifle Association. 

DHS “Misinformation Governance Board” Could Seek to Sway Gun Debate

News  

Monday, May 16, 2022

DHS “Misinformation Governance Board” Could Seek to Sway Gun Debate

In late April, Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), made a bizarre announcement during a congressional hearing that DHS was forming what it called a “Mis- and Disinformation Governance Board.” The statement came ...

Follow the Science, Unless it Leads Where You Don’t Want to Go

News  

Monday, May 16, 2022

Follow the Science, Unless it Leads Where You Don’t Want to Go

Researchers in California have published the results of a study evaluating the effectiveness of so-called “gun violence restraining orders” (a.k.a. “extreme risk protection orders” or “red flag” orders). Assembly Bill 1014, was enacted in California in ...

President Donald J. Trump to Address NRA Members at the 2022 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Houston, Texas

News  

Thursday, May 12, 2022

President Donald J. Trump to Address NRA Members at the 2022 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Houston, Texas

Former President Donald J. Trump will headline the 2022 NRA-ILA Leadership Forum on May 27, at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Monday, June 30, 2014

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

Alaska: Legislature Fails to Pass Pro-2A Legislation as it Adjourns

Friday, May 20, 2022

Alaska: Legislature Fails to Pass Pro-2A Legislation as it Adjourns

At midnight on Wednesday, the Alaska Legislature adjourned from its 2022 Legislative Session. 

Georgia: Gov. Kemp Signs Constitutional Carry

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Georgia: Gov. Kemp Signs Constitutional Carry

Today, Governor Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 319, constitutional carry, into law. Georgia is now the 25th constitutional carry state, and the fourth to join that group in 2022. Half of the country now recognizes the right ...

Illinois: General Assembly Passes “Ghost Gun” Ban

Monday, April 11, 2022

Illinois: General Assembly Passes “Ghost Gun” Ban

On Friday, the House Judiciary Committee held a subject matter hearing on House Bill 4383 Senate Floor Amendment 2, to ban individuals from making their own firearms for personal use, and voted to advance the measure. ...

Oklahoma: Your Action Needed - Majority Floor Leader Greg McCortney Refuses to Bring Firearm Discrimination Prevention Measure to a Vote

Friday, May 20, 2022

Oklahoma: Your Action Needed - Majority Floor Leader Greg McCortney Refuses to Bring Firearm Discrimination Prevention Measure to a Vote

Your NRA-ILA has learned that Majority Leader Greg McCortney is refusing to bring the FIND Act, House Bill 3144, up for a vote in the Senate.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.