Facebook Instant Articles

Florida school shooting: Charting the ’normalization’ of gun attacks on U.S. kids

Sandy Hook was supposed to be a turning point, leading to real gun control and a reduction in attacks on school children. Neither came to pass.
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 14: People are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school that reportedly killed and injured multiple people on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Numerous law enforcement officials continue to investigate the scene. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
People are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. after Wednesday’s shooting (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

There are two constants after any mass shooting in the United States: an offering of “thoughts and prayers” from political leaders and a constant flow of data meant to sway public opinion, the hope being that—this time—policy makers will finally do something to address the country’s gun laws.

The cycle started to repeat itself again yesterday. At least 17 people, including teenagers and adults, are dead after a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. allegedly pulled a fire alarm and opened fire on the students and teachers as they flooded into the hallways.

As American media update their charts from the country’s previous mass shooting—which is never all that long ago—there is no shortage of data to help pinpoint where the nation’s pathologies lie.

An education

The Parkland tragedy marked the 18th school shooting in America this year alone, and it’s only mid-February. No wonder the news site Quartz opted to use one chart to explain the “normalization of U.S. school shootings.”

Since September 2014, America has only had one month (Feb. 2017) when no person was either injured or killed in a school shooting, according to the New York Times, using data from the non-profit Gun Violence Archive.

And since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut from December 2012—when 20 children, all aged six or seven, plus another six adults were killed—a total of 430 people have been shot in nearly 300 American school shootings.

Owning up

The problem isn’t just what’s happening in schools. It’s shootings altogether. While at least 17 people were killed in Parkland on Valentine’s Day, another 1,789 people have died from gun violence in America just this year.

When the President addressed the nation Thursday, the news site Vox pointed out how Trump didn’t mention one potential cause: America’s stockpile of firearms.

2017 is the deadliest year for mass shootings in U.S. modern history

There are an estimated 650 million guns owned by civilians in the entire world, CNN points out. About half of them (48 per cent) belong to Americans. It should come as no shock that when gun ownership data by country is looked at per capita, no other country comes remotely close to America. As of 2007, there were 89 guns for every 100 Americans. The next closest? Strife-torn Yemen, with 55 guns per 100 citizens.

It’s getting tougher to avoid the correlation between gun ownership and gun-related deaths.

Trump claimed over Twitter there were signs the alleged Parkland shooter is “mentally disturbed.” Yet less than six weeks into his presidency, Trump himself signed a bill that made it easier for folks with mental illnesses to buy guns without background checks.

And while Americans might worry about an illegal gun culture in the country only to stock up on firearms themselves for protection, the vast majority of mass shooters from 1982-2012 used guns that were purchased legally, according to data from Mother Jones.

RELATED: How Las Vegas shooting victim Jordan McIldoon didn’t die alone

On a global scale

It should surprise no one that U.S. gun-death rates compare poorly against those of nations with the lowest rates, as NPR reports.

America’s gun-death rates do look better alongside charts that compare it with the worst, but that’s cold comfort given the legal, political or social disarray in those countries.

“Syria has a lower level of gun violence. Syria,” one person remarked on Twitter.

And when it comes to rich western countries, if Canada had the same population as the U.S., there would be five daily gun-related deaths in the Great White North, according to the Times.

America has almost 30. Every day.


Change. What change?

Every mass shooting comes with renewed sadness and outrage. The only thing that rarely occurs is meaningful change.

A recent Gallup poll found that the percentage of Americans wanting stricter gun laws is on the rise, especially since 2012. But depending on how you look at the data, there’s also the argument that, combined, there are more Americans who would rather gun laws stay the same (39 per cent) or become even less strict (eight per cent) than there are Americans wanting stricter laws (46 per cent).

Still, specific changes to gun laws—when you explain them on a case-by-case basis to Americans—seem to garner support from both the public and experts, as the New York Times points out.


And yet fewer and fewer Americans want a ban on handguns.

Sadly, Americans probably can’t expect much change soon, especially with both a Republican president and Congress in power, with many who received generous financial backing from the National Rifle Association.

Often times, the mere mention of “gun control” worries those who fear the feds might take their guns away. Indeed, as if on cue, stock in firearms companies rose after the Parkland shooting, CNBC reports, yet another constant in the aftermath of mass shootings.