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Monday, June 29, 2015

Washington Post Gives Senator Murphy, Everytown Claim on School Shootings Four Pinocchios

The Washington Post Fact Checker has weighed in on that Everytown for Gun Safety claim that there has been a school shooting every week since Sandy Hook and it isn't good news for Bloomberg and his minions.  The Post decided to weigh in after Conn. U.S. Senator Chris Murphy repeated the claim on the floor of the U.S. Senate on June 24th, sparked by the church shooting in Charleston, S.C.
A version of this claim circulated after the June 2014 incident in Oregon in which a high school freshman armed with an assault rifle shot and killed a student and injured a teacher. President Obama and other gun-control advocates had said then that there had been at least 74 school shootings between Sandy Hook and the Oregon shooting.

The source for the claim then, and for Murphy’s recent statement, is a report by Everytown for Gun Safety, which describes itself as “a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities.”
That list included things like a police chase that ended on school property after hours as a "school shooting." The Post is not the first to rule that Everytown was playing fast and loose with the numbers but having one more source not known to be friendly to the right to keep and bear arms point this out doesn't hurt:
There are many ways to define school shooting. But applying the “reasonable person” standard, as is the standard at The Fact Checker, it is difficult to see how many of the incidents included in Everytown’s list — such as suicide in a car parked on a campus or a student accidentally shooting himself when emptying his gun and putting it away in his car before school — would be considered a “school shooting” in the context of Sandy Hook.

Lawmakers have a responsibility to check out the facts in the reports they use, especially ones that come from advocacy groups. If they are aware there are definitions that are disputed, or that are defined in other ways depending on who uses them, it is incumbent on lawmakers to clarify exactly what they are talking about and not mislead the public. In particular, lawmakers should rely more on official government statistics, such as from the FBI, rather than misleading metrics cobbled together by interest groups.

We wavered between Three and Four Pinocchios. But this is a definition of “school shooting” that was widely disputed a year ago, and lawmakers need to present information — especially for such a controversial topic as gun control — in a clear, responsible and accurate way. Murphy’s failure to do so tipped the rating to Four.
The Post would do well to take their own advice regarding checking the facts.  In 2014, they ran their story (which has been updated since it was originally posted) on the Everytown report without doing any fact checking.  I guess a year of hearing the numbers and seeing folks like CNN question the numbers made the Post decide to check the facts.  Any bets on whether anti-rights politicians will stop using this bogus statistic after this latest discrediting of Everytown's numbers?

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