Gun nuts' infuriating craze: Why they want to redefine "school shootings"

What do you do if you want to avoid the tiniest of gun safety restrictions? For some, ludicrous math is the answer

Published June 20, 2014 4:38PM (EDT)

Richard Martinez who says his son Christopher Martinez was killed in Friday night's mass shooting that took place in Isla Vista, Calif.       (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Richard Martinez who says his son Christopher Martinez was killed in Friday night's mass shooting that took place in Isla Vista, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Throughout our existence, human beings have asked some of the great questions to which we may never truly find answers. Why are we here? Is there life after death? What technically constitutes a "school shooting"?

Wait, what?

That’s right. "What is a school shooting" is the question right-wing gun-rights activists are posing after a study by gun violence prevention group Everytown for Gun Safety showed there's been a total of 74 school shootings in the United States, since 26 people, including 20 children, were killed in December 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

For what it's worth, a school shooting is defined by Wikipedia as “an occurrence in which an individual discharges a gun and that incident takes place at an education institution.” This seems pretty straightforward. There is a shooting at a school; it is a school shooting. But the problem lies in the fact that if this definition is true, then Everytown’s list of school shootings, which are based on true, actual events, is accurate. And if that stands, gun-rights advocates will have a harder time defending their position of not even closing the tiniest of loopholes to make it even a tad more difficult for wannabe school shooters to gain access to guns.

So, what better way to combat this alarming list of school shootings than to redefine the term “school shooting” itself? By doing this, according to gun-rights activists, you knock off, say, 59 of the 74 school shootings, leaving you with only 15 real, true, legitimate school shootings. ONLY 15! That’s nothing. We can live with that, right? Apparently, gun-rights activists can. They sleep at night knowing the country’s lax gun control laws took the lives of numerous students and teachers at only 15 school shootings. The sad thing is, media outlets are now using this new “revised” number.

Charles C. Johnson is the brilliant conservative philosopher who shined a light upon this question for the ages over on his Twitter account as he went through each school shooting, excuse me, “school shooting” on Everytown’s list.

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Let’s look through some of these “not school shootings” or, as he calls them, “fake school shootings.”

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Can’t you just picture Mr. Johnson walking into this classroom full of grieving students, pointing at the deceased and declaring, “Yeah, this is not a school shooting”?

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To the conservative mind-set, this was just a teacher getting shot at school by someone she knows. This stuff just happens. Not a school shooting.

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So, now we’re getting into actual "students being shot" territory here, but you see, it was an accident. The gunman did not plan to shoot up a school, Just, you know, whoops, he did. That is just how it is. Not a school shooting.

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As you can see, this is not a school shooting because this shooting, which took place at a school, was sparked over a dispute over a Nintendo Wii. This is a clear violation of the school shooting rulebook.

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Also, don’t forget, gang-related gun violence at schools are fake.

In case you’re not following here, Mr. Johnson is basically arguing that any shooting that occurred over a personal spat, by accident or due to gang violence is just not a real school shooting. They are fakes! Many parents whose children lost their lives in these totally not school shootings must feel a sense of relief over the fact that their child’s very real death occurred during a fake school shooting. Victims who have survived these tragic events have to feel cheated over the fact that they weren’t shot in an “official” school shooting, but a fraudulent one. Maybe someone would have cared about their friends/family members who did lose their lives if the shooting they experienced qualified as a “real school shooting.” At the very least until that shooting was redefined too.

Speaking of which, if right-wing gun rights activists are going to play semantics here with the term “school shooting,” why stop there? Isn’t it just a bit odd that they would jump through hoops to lower this number and just pause at 15, a number that they are apparently fine with? Why not keep redefining the term? We will eventually get to a point where there are no more school shootings. Was Newtown itself even a “real” school shooting? How about Columbine? Let's just broaden the rules a bit, redefine a word here and there, and right there is one less school shooting. Problem solved without even having to really do anything.

They keep their lenient gun laws, perhaps even relaxing them further, we do away with school shootings, but just have to live with the fact that the shooting death toll continues to rise. Win-win?

I mean, what is a “shooting” even, really? Heck, what are “schools”?

By Matt Binder

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