Opinion: Keep facts in mind when discussing Florida school shooting

Feb 20, 2018, 3:26 PM

Lori Quintanilla, joins protestors on a during a rally against gun violence in downtown Los Angeles...

Lori Quintanilla, joins protestors on a during a rally against gun violence in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. Hundreds of sign-carrying, chanting protesters have converged on a downtown Los Angeles park, demanding tougher background checks and other gun-safety measures following last week's deadly school shooting in Florida. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Now that we are a few days removed from the massacre in Parkland, Florida, I stand by my advice from last weekend’s Get Outdoors show: Both sides of the gun debate need to sit a few plays out, take a few deep breaths, research the facts, then calmly and respectfully enter the debate.

Here are a few examples of knee-jerk reactions by those that just won’t take my advice.

Eighteen school shootings so far in 2018?

Let me begin by saying that any child being shot is unacceptable. Period.

Yet, the term “school shooting” is being used a bit loosely by Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety.

Yes, some sort of firearm has been discharged at, on, or near a school campus 18 times this year. Everytown explains on its website that it defines a school shooting as “any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds.”

That still conjures up horrific images in most minds, but the fact is that only a few of the 18 instances that are being cited have even resulted in students being harmed.

The 18 instances cover a range of “shootings” such as an escaladed fight at a sorority party to a student mistaking a live firearm at a criminal justice meeting.

Of the 18 instances in 2018:

  • Only five resulted in injury (I admit, five too many).
  • Three were intentional shootings with no injuries reported. This included some slappy shooting at a school bus with an air gun, resulting in a cracked window.
  • Two involved firearms that police/peace officers that were unintentionally fired without injury.
  • Seven took place outside of school hours. No students present.

The facts matter in times like these.

Assault rifles should be banned?

Let’s take this piece by piece:

Automatic means multiple rounds are fired with one trigger pull and no additional action required of the shooter.

Semi-automatic means that one round is fired per trigger pull, followed by the firearm cycling a new round into the chamber with no additional action form the shooter.

Pump/bolt action firearms expel one round per trigger pull as well. The difference being that the firearm requires additional action from the shooter to chamber a subsequent round.

Automatic firearms have already been banned (mostly). You would need to obtain a highly regulated federal license to own one. We’re talking about tens of thousands of dollars here.

Assault is a verb, not an adjective. A rifle is simply a rifle until it is used to assault someone or something. This requires the actions of a human being to properly change its description.

Oh and, AR does NOT stand for “assault rifle.” AR is model abbreviation for Armalite, the company responsible for the design. Please, just please, stop claiming AR stands for “assault rifle.”

Our kids aren’t safe at school

This is, statistically, nonsense. When I dropped my kids off at school this morning, I was not in fear for their safety, nor where they.

Here are the numbers: Every weekday during the regular school year, over 75 million Americans spend the bulk of their day on some sort of educational campus.

In the last decade, 97 of those 75 million students had their life cut tragically short by gun violence.

That is an average of 9.7 per year.That is 9.7 per year too many, but we are talking numbers here, not emotions.

About 75 million students going to school 180 days out of the year. That’s 9.7 times in 13.5 trillion visits to school that students lost their lives to gun violence. In other words 1:1,391,752,577.

School has been and remains, statistically, one of the safest places you can take your children.

We have to take off our shoes at TSA checkpoints

This is stretching at its best but it is being spouted by several talking heads on cable and national news.

The argument is that we all seem to be OK that we have to take our shoes off for TSA screening as a reaction to the infamous attempted Shoe Bomber in 2001. The reasoning goes that responsible gun owners shouldn’t be too upset if our reaction to the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is additional screening when buying a firearm.

Two things here:

First, the additional TSA screening measures were not OUR reaction. It was the TSA’s reaction. I would believe that most feel that having millions of flyers take off their shoes during screening is an overreaction to an attempted act of terror.

Then, there is a pesky little document called the Constitution of the United States which does not guarantee the right to keep your shoes on during screening, nor does it guarantee you the right to fly the friendly skies.

It does, however, guarantee that your right to bear arms “shall not be infringed.” I will follow up soon with my thoughts on the Second Amendment.

For now, I’m taking my own advice and not engaging in debate. But those are the facts.

Michael Russell

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Opinion: Keep facts in mind when discussing Florida school shooting