Fake news and school shootings lead to confusion

Florida shooting renews debate on 2nd Amendment rights

By Katie Leibel
Staff Writer

With the number of school shootings that have occurred in 2018, a lot of fake news has been spread surrounding the subject of gun rights, the statistics surrounding them, and where the U.S. is in relation to the rest of the world with these issues. After weeks of protests, students planning to walk out, and gun rights activists fighting for their second amendment right, I decided to do some digging as to what is real and what is fake when it comes down to school shootings and the second amendment.

When looking into the different articles being shared and spread, one stated that eighteen school shootings have occurred since the beginning of 2018. Shocked, I looked into the locations, the definition of “school shooting,” and what this means for the United States.

As it turns out, many newspapers printed corrections which stated that only seventeen have occurred this year. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, an advocacy group backed by Michael Bloomberg, a school shooting is defined as “any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds.” They also include any time it is not discharged but is heard or hits on campus, which would include stray bullets or nearby shootings.

This means that the incident in Maplewood, Minnesota, where a child pulled the trigger of a police officer’s gun, but no one was injured, is also considered a school shooting. This also includes any time an individual commits suicide in a school, even if that individual is not a student. In these terms, yes, seventeen school shootings have occurred this year, but these are not the terms most individuals go by.

In this article, I define school shooting as an incident in which an individual attempts to shoot one or more people besides themselves on school grounds and attempts to injure or kill others, during or after school hours. When using this definition, I found that approximately 9 school shootings have occurred this year.

Using a more narrow definition, such as an individual attempting to shoot one or more people besides themselves on school grounds, attempts to injure or kill others during school hours, and succeeded in doing so, that number drops to four. In these terms, less than seventeen school shootings have occurred, but this is not the only piece of “fake news,” the nation is facing in relation to gun laws and school shootings.

An article surfaced about a twenty-year-old man with an expired driver’s license who was able to buy an AR-15 at his local gun shop. He detailed his experience in the article. Many read and shared the article, but missed one key note in the article. He did not actually purchase the weapon.

According to the article, the man was filling out the paperwork, did not follow through, decided not to buy the rifle worth over six hundred dollars, and instead left to write this story. In his story, the man wrote that he was told he would be able to buy and leave with the rifle that day. He also stated that a man checked his license, and did not notice that it was expired.

Many commenters on the article stated that because he did not follow through with the entire process, his account is not accurate. The store would have later checked his license and done a background check on the computer in which they would have found his license was expired, any criminal history, and would not have allowed him to purchase the weapon.

Although we do not know if the store would have followed through with these procedures as the law states they should, we can infer that the article the man wrote was a piece of unintended misinformation. It is especially misleading as the article is paired with a picture of the man holding the weapon as if he has recently finished purchasing the item.

This article as well as the recent mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida has sparked another major protest surrounding gun control in the United States. Students all across the U.S. are planning multiple walk-outs including one on March 14, and another on April 20. The April 20 date is important to students as it is the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting.

Many students are using their social media to reach out to news stations, politicians, and many other individuals to make their voices heard. Whether these walk-outs will occur or be successful is tentative, but likely given the views the “mass shooting” generation has toward gun violence.

Born in a post-Columbine world, the New York Times labels children and young adults in schools the “mass shooting” generation as they practice active shooter drills, and view shootings as a norm in society. Many young people in 2018 have strong anti-gun beliefs, and are working hard to establish stricter gun laws in the future.

Some citizens want to outlaw guns altogether, but because of the United States Constitution, it is not feasible. If guns were to be outlawed, one should worry about the first amendment which allows for freedom of speech and every other amendment in the U.S. Constitution, especially the first ten. The first ten amendments to the U.S. constitution came to be at the same time, and under the same circumstances through the Bill of Rights. If we were to outlaw guns, it would be possible to outlaw freedom of speech, religion, and many other rights that citizens have in the U.S.

Rather, what is a feasible prediction for the future is that there may be limitations applied to the second amendment similar to the limitations that the U.S. puts on freedom of speech. An example of the limitations we have for the first amendment include that one cannot yell “fire,” in a crowded place to cause a panic. It is possible that the U.S. may outlaw clips and guns with the ability to shoot more than a certain number of rounds without reloading to limit the second amendment similar to how it has limited the first amendment.

The problem with this prediction is that too strict or too lax of limitations to the second amendment could be applied which could lead to more problems. I would expect to see more debate with different limitations, ideas surrounding gun rights, and many more protests surrounding the topic in the future.

Photo: (AP Photo)

2 thoughts on “Fake news and school shootings lead to confusion

  • Daniel Sebold

    I wonder if they were to shoot up Wall Street if the gun laws would change. As far as Constitutional Rights, I am not sure we have any. Obama suspended Habeas Corpus during his last administration which means they can send any of us to Guantanamo without due process.

  • Daniel Sebold

    So let’s analyze what constitutes a real school shooting? We can’t expect anything more from Americans. When I was in the ’91 Gulf War, I was on the Battleship Wisconsin which was targeting the water filtration plants around Basra, Iraq, a terrorist act against civilian infrastructure which resulted in a half million children dying from dysentery over the next ten years. Secretary of State Madelyne Albright was asked if it was worth killing a half million children in the UN Sanctions that followed the war. She said, “Yes.” Why, of course, it was worth it, and the victims in America’s school shootings don’t matter either, because they happened to someone else’s kids. Oh, hey, I hear there is a diversity dinner over in the Student Union. Let’s go.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.