David Hogg was a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.

That’s the day Nikolas Cruz entered the Parkland, Fla., school, shooting and killing 14 students and three staff members. Seventeen others were wounded. It was one of the deadliest school shootings in the United States.

Since then, Hogg has made it his mission to bring attention to the problem of school shootings by conducting protests and demanding action by lawmakers.

I think it’s a good thing when people get involved and try to invoke change to address problems they perceive in our culture – especially young people.

A couple of weeks ago, somebody “swatted” Hogg’s parents’ home in Coral Springs, Fla. That’s when there’s a prank call to 911 – in this case, reporting a hostage situation – that elicits a massive police response.

That’s not cool.

Nobody was home at the time, but afterward, when Hogg was asked about it, he said this:

"I think it's really a distraction from what we're trying to fix here, which is the massive gun-violence epidemic in this country," Hogg told a local TV reporter.

Now, I don’t begrudge anyone their opinion, but this kid need to do a little research.

Certainly, gun violence is a problem. It has always been a problem and it continues to be a problem.

I’m sure that the students of that high school in Florida probably feel and believe otherwise, but by any thoughtful measure, the U.S. is not in the throes of a “massive gun-violence epidemic.”

Quite the contrary, in fact.

Early this year, Pew Research Center published a piece titled “5 Facts About Crime in the U.S.”

Their research shows:

1. Violent crime in the U.S. has fallen sharply over the past quarter century. The two most commonly cited sources of crime statistics in the U.S. both show a substantial decline in the violent crime rate since it peaked in the early 1990s. One is an annual report by the FBI of serious crimes reported to police in approximately 18,000 jurisdictions around the country. The other is an annual survey of more than 90,000 households conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which asks Americans ages 12 and older whether they were victims of crime, regardless of whether they reported those crimes to the police.

Using the FBI numbers, the violent crime rate fell 48 percent between 1993 and 2016. Using the BJS data, the rate fell 74 percent during that span. (For both studies, 2016 is the most recent full year of data.) It’s important to note that the FBI reported a 7 percent increase in the violent crime rate between 2014 and 2016, including a 20 percent rise in the murder rate —from 4.4 to 5.3 murders per 100,000 residents.

Now, to be sure, a 20 percent increase in the murder rate sounds pretty bad, and it is. But remember, the murder rate in 1993 was 9.5 per 100,000 residents. Even with a 20-percent rise, the rate is still 45 percent lower than it was in 1993.

2. Property crime has declined significantly over the long term. Like the violent crime rate, the U.S. property crime rate today is far below its peak level. FBI data show that the rate fell 48 percent between 1993 and 2016, while BJS reports a decline of 66 percent during that span.

3. Public perceptions about crime in the U.S. often don’t align with the data. Opinion surveys regularly find that Americans believe crime is up nationally, even when the data show it is down.

A Pew Research Center survey in late 2016, 57 percent of registered voters said crime in the U.S. had gotten worse since 2008, even though BJS and FBI data show that violent and property crime rates declined by double-digit percentages during that span.

4. There are large geographic variations in crime rates. The FBI’s data show big differences from state to state and city to city. In 2016, there were more than 600 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in Alaska, Nevada, New Mexico and Tennessee. By contrast, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont had rates below 200 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.

5. Most crimes are not reported to police, and most reported crimes are not solved. In its annual survey, BJS asks victims of crime whether they reported that crime to police. In 2016, only 42 percent of the violent crime tracked by BJS was reported to police. And in the much more common category of property crime, only about a third (36 percent) was reported.

It’s easy to see why the public perception of crime doesn’t match up with the data.

The mainstream media and social media tend to magnify news events to the point where people use terms like “massive gun-violence epidemic.”

It’s not “fake news.” It’s just hyped.

But when it comes to school shootings, some folks truly are just doing whatever they can to push a narrative, regardless of the facts.

This from CNN on May 25:

We're 21 weeks into 2018, and there have already been 23 school shootings where someone was hurt or killed. That averages out to more than 1 shooting a week.

But if you look at the descriptions of the shootings you find that eight actually took place in a school. Most were in parking lots, dorms or apartments and many didn’t even involve students. One involved a BB-gun.

The anti-gun Everytown USA, funded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, organization is the worst at this.

After the Parkland shooting, Everytown called it the “18th school shooting in the U.S. in 2018.”

According to reporting in The Washington Post, that statistic was parrotted by every major news network. In one day, it was tweeted and retweeted so many times that the No. 1 suggested search after typing “18” into Google was “18 school shootings in 2018.”

Problem is, it’s completely inaccurate.

From the Post:

Everytown has long inflated its total by including incidents of gunfire that are not really school shootings. Take, for example, what it counted as the year’s first: On the afternoon of Jan. 3, a 31-year-old man who had parked outside a Michigan elementary school called police to say he was armed and suicidal. Several hours later, he killed himself. The school, however, had been closed for seven months. There were no teachers. There were no students.

So how many of Everytown’s 18 school shootings happened during school hours and resulted in any physical injury?


Come on, people. We all know gun violence is a problem and we need to look at solutions.

But to craft policy based on hyperbole instead of fact is to craft bad policy.