On Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, the United States witnessed one of the worst school shootings in our nation’s history. Seventeen innocent people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, had their lives cut short by a heinous, senseless act of violence. Their names and memories will never be forgotten.
While the scene was still active, Sen. Christopher Murphy, D-Conn., took to the Senate floor to push for gun control reform. At the time, there had been no information released about the shooter, the investigation or the number of lives lost. However, Murphy wasted no time in using this tragedy to push his political agenda, as did Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and many others (politicians, celebrities, and average citizens alike).
In doing so, they made baseless claims, cited false statistics and made assumptions that have now been proven to be false.
I want to be clear when I say this: Using the slaughter of innocent children to push your political agenda is despicable, reprehensible, inhumane and immoral.
Sen. Murphy claimed, “this happens nowhere else other than the United States of America,” as did others.
According to The Crime Prevention Research Center, that is not correct. In regard to mass shootings, The United States is not ranked among the top 10 countries in terms of death rate and frequency.
From 2009 to 2015, the Annual Death Rate from mass public shootings per million people include, in order of rank: Norway, Serbia, France, Macedonia, Albania, Slovakia, Switzerland, Finland, Belgium, Czech Republic and the United States. The U.S. is ranked 11th in the list.
Also, from January 2009 to December 2015, the frequency of mass public shootings per million people comparing the U.S. to European countries included: Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, Switzerland, Norway, Slovakia, Finland, Belgium, Austria, Czech Republic, France and the United States. The U.S. is ranked 12th amongst this list.
According to the Crime Prevention Research center, on a global spectrum, all but two of the 25 worst mass public shootings in history have happened outside of the U.S.
Sen. Murphy and others also cited a statistic claiming that this was the 18th school shooting in the U.S. in 2018.
But according to the Washington Post, “no, there haven’t been 18 school shootings in 2018. That number is flat wrong.” So this claim is incorrect and misleading.
Only five of the reported 18 “school shootings” listed as the basis for this claim resulted in physical injury. The other reported “school shootings” were similar to the case of the third grader who accidentally pulled the trigger of a police officer’s holstered pistol, firing a round into the floor, where no one was injured.
Sen. Murphy and others claimed that the cause of this shooting was the inaction of Congress, but this is also incorrect. Those at fault for the shooting were the shooter himself and the government agencies that failed to stop him.
The negligence of various government agencies and the failure to follow basic protocol cost these 17 innocent children their lives.
The FBI received two reports on the Parkland shooter prior to the shooting.
The first came from a YouTuber who reported last fall that someone had left a comment on his video stating that the shooter wanted to be “a professional school shooter.” On Jan. 5 of this year, someone called the FBI and reported this same person’s “gun ownership, his desire to kill people, his erratic behavior and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.” The FBI should have assessed this information as a potential threat to human life and investigated the shooter. But they didn’t, and 17 innocent people lost their lives as a result.
In conclusion, if you want to have a discussion on gun control policy, that’s perfectly fine. Present your solution, and allow us all to have a rational, political conversation on your proposed solution. But do not use the murder of 17 innocent children to push your political agenda. That is unjust and immoral.
Baylor Cook, Columnist
[graphic courtesy of Hannah Hutson]