Facts or Fear Machine: Is school homicide really rising?

USA By: Tad Lumpkin 2:24 pm

(Reason)- In the aftermath of yesterday’s shooting at an Oregon high school, the president worried that such slayings are “becoming the norm.” I’ve written skeptically in the past about whether the number of mass shootings in America is actually increasing, as the word becoming implies—see my posts here, here, and here—but there’s always a haze of uncertainty around those numbers, thanks to the varying definitions of “mass shooting” that different people use.

But maybe that isn’t the best thing to be measuring in the first place. The Oregon incident isn’t a “mass” shooting at all—the gunman killed two people, and one of those was himself—but it obviously speaks to the same sorts of fear and grief. If your son was just shot, after all, it’s hardly a comfort that his classmates survived. A map darting around the Internet this week claims to show all the school shootings since Sandy Hook. Note the modifier: school, not mass.

So how frequently are people killed at school? The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) keeps a running count of such homicides, with “at school” defined to include deaths not just on school property but “while the victim was on the way to or from regular sessions at school or while the victim was attending or traveling to or from an official school-sponsored event.” You might quibble about whether those off-campus killings belong in this category, but still, it’s a straightforward definition that doesn’t get bogged down in how many people die in one attack or, for that matter, what weapon was used to murder them.

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SOURCE: Facts or Fear Machine: Is school homicide really rising?http://reason.com/blog/2014/06/11/are-school-homicides-becoming-the-norm

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