18 school shootings already in '18? Not so fast

A candlelight vigil was held the day after the mass shooting at a Florida high school. (USA Today Network)
A candlelight vigil was held the day after the mass shooting at a Florida high school. (USA Today Network)
The accused shooter is Nikolas Cruz, a former student at the school. (AP)
The accused shooter is Nikolas Cruz, a former student at the school. (AP)

Few would say that the firing of a single gunshot in or near a school, even if no one is hit, is a trivial matter.

At the same time, such an incident doesn’t compare to the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead.

And yet if you’ve heard the claim that there have been 18 "school shootings" in the United States already in 2018, both types of incidents -- and others of varying degrees of seriousness -- are being counted.

As we detailed in this fact check, published the day after the Florida shooting, the 18 count comes from a group that uses a broad definition of school shooting.

Only three of those incidents, including Florida, involved multiple gunshots inside of a school that caused deaths or an injury.

But in the wake of the Florida shooting, the 18 figure was been repeated many times without the proper context.

On Twitter, it was uttered by widely known figures such as commentator Jeff Greenfield (who took down his tweet as we prepared our fact check on his claim), U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and actress Reese Witherspoon.

Moreover, the 18 figure was reported by news media such as ABC, Politico, TIME, CNBC, the New York Daily News and HuffPost.

But the facts are catching up.

Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, which did the 18 count, revised its figure to 17 after a report in the Washington Post. The Post reported that one case involved a man who committed suicide in the parking lot of a Michigan school that had been shut down. The Post story also dissected the other cases counted by Everytown.

Time later revised its report to say there had been several school shootings so far in 2018.

And by two days after the Florida shooting, USA Today, Reason and other media were publishing stories knocking down the 18 figure.

Read more about the number, and the proper context, in our fact check here.

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