Only hours after Nikolas Cruz gunned down seventeen innocent souls at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a talking point started making the rounds.
Almost immediately, news outlets and gun control proponents began repeating the claim that there had been 18 school shootings in 2018. This is quite the shocking, stomach-churning statistic.
When Americans think of a “school shooting”, places like Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Virginia Tech come to mind. These massacres have shaped our nation’s discussion of school safety, firearms, and the Second Amendment.
But when you look closer at that often-used statistic, it’s glaringly obvious that the category has been expanded to include even very minor incidents. My colleague Susan Wright discussed it here. What has been classified as a school shooting just this year includes the following:
- A student firing a gun on campus in Mobile, Alabama. No injuries.
- A man shooting himself in his former school parking lot.
- A teenager being injured when shot outside a school in Maryland.
- A shot was fired inside a New York high school.
Sadly, there have been injuries and deaths just this year on school grounds nationwide. However, to include even the firing of a gun in the same category as murder is, I believe, stretching the definition to advance a narrative.
Too often, gun control advocates and 2A haters believe that they are the only ones concerned about gun violence. At the Oscars on Sunday night, attendees wore orange pins to protest and bring awareness to this issue. (News flash: everyone is anti-gun violence. Stop patting yourselves on the back.)
Since Parkland, another school shooting has taken place.
On March 2nd at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, two individuals were shot and killed inside a dorm room. Obviously, this would fit the current definition of “school shooting.” What happened? James Eric Davis, Jr. shot and killed his parents, Eric Davis, Sr. and Diva Davis. The father was a part-time police officer in Chicago. He of course legally owned the firearm which, tragically, his son used to kill him.
Before the shooting, James Eric Davis, Jr. had been acting strangely. His parents believed that drug abuse was occurring and took him to a hospital just the day before their son ended their lives.
But no one is really talking about it.
Right now, Parkland is still front-and-center. It will be for some time. The body count was much higher and the victims were much younger. On top of that, the #NeverAgain activism that has grown out of tragedy has produced some young pseudo-celebrities who yell at Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, placing blame for gun deaths squarely on their shoulders.
The horrific massacre spurred some companies to publically denounce the NRA by cutting perks or support from the gun rights organization. Marches are planned. Students are walking out of their classrooms in acts of defiance.
But what about African-American victims Eric and Diva Davis?
The Parkland shooting and CMU shooting are alike in many ways. Both involve legally-owned firearms. Both of the killers were 19-years-old. They each happened on school grounds. Both include an element of mental instability that had been noticed by others. Yes, the body count in Florida was much higher, but that does not diminish the worth of the deceased individuals in Michigan.
Why do some shootings matter to the country more than others? Why are some almost instantaneously forgotten? I propose that it has most everything to do with what best fits the current political narrative at the time of occurrence.
Unfortunately, caring about one shooting and dismissing others just reinforces that we live in a pro-death society. We see it in these shootings. We see it in the promotion and acceptance of abortion. It is everywhere. Determining that only some lives are worth remembering in the fight for justice won’t bring us closer to addressing the issue of gun violence. In fact, it cheapens the mission.
I still believe, above all else, that evil is to blame for murderous acts. Regardless of what measures are taken, we will again hear news of a school shooting. It’s not if, it’s when.
Do I think that a gunshot in the parking lot of a school qualifies as a school shooting? No, I do not. However, I do believe that Eric and Diva Davis’ deaths fall under the category.
If we’re going to discuss gun violence in schools, we need to do a few things. First, we must not make definitions so broad as to include any time a gun goes off on school premises. Second, we must not honor only those victims who best fit our narrative.
As activism continues, it’s important to note the inaccuracies spouted by the teenage pawns making their rounds on the talk circuit. It’s also crucial that we don’t treat with disinterest those lives whose untimely end wasn’t as useful on the 6:00 news.