Newtown

A list of so-called “school shootings” published this week that claimed there have been 74 such incidents since Dec. 2012 – which would average out to more than one per week – has been exposed as a fraud.

The list was put out by Everytown for Gun Safety, a pro-gun control group formed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other prominent gun control advocates.

“Since the December 2012 shooting in Newtown, CT, there have been at least 74 school shootings in America,” states the group on its website. “How many more before our leaders pass common-sense laws to prevent gun violence and save lives?”map

About half of the citations on the list took place on college campuses, and the rest at K-12 schools. After it was published, a map of America that indicated where each of the shootings took place was spread by mainstream media outlets all over social media Tuesday.

That’s when freelance journalist Charles C. Johnson used his Twitter feed to call out each citation on the list, pointing out how they either involved suicides, were gang- or drug-related incidents, involved spats between lovers or friends, took place off campus, or were connected with police matters that randomly ended up on a school campus.

Here are some of the Tweets:


Johnson, in an interview Wednesday with The College Fix, said that in all, only about a half-dozen or so examples on the list could truly be categorized as a “school shooting” as far as most Americans interpret the expression.

He added Everytown for Gun Safety clearly sought to hype the issue to further its gun-control goals by making it seem like mass school shootings and killings are commonplace.

“It’s really kind of sick to basically prey on people’s emotions about something that is a really traumatic thing,” he said. “If you make mass killing seems so common place all the time, you make people terrified and worried, particularly mothers who are very emotional about their little kids.”

“Whereas statistically speaking, your child is more likely to die falling down the stairs, or in the bathroom, or kitchen, or swimming pool.”

Johnson also chided the mainstream media for reporting on the list before probing it further.

“I am kind of embarrassed by journalists that (tweeted that) map,” he said. “The Boston Globe, LA Times, New York Daily News, CNN – you go down the list, MSNBC, Ezra Klein – who is supposedly running this big data site – they are tweeting this map.”

But now some mainstream news organizations question the list.

In a CNN report published late Wednesday and headlined “A closer look: How many school shootings since Newtown?” CNN reported that only about 15 incidents Everytown included on its list could be construed as school shootings as they are widely understood.

“That works out to about one shooting every five weeks,” CNN reports.

Everytown for Gun Safety has yet to respond to the criticism.

Jennifer Kabbany is associate editor of The College Fix. ( @JenniferKabbany )

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IMAGE: Internet screenshot

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TUCSON, ARIZ.- In the spring of 2013, the University of Arizona came to a standstill after university police were notified a man armed with a rifle was reportedly on the loose in the administration building.

Officers surrounded the building, evacuated neighboring facilities and shut down nearby streets. They conducted a room-by-room search to find the shooter, but found no evidence of a shooting, perpetrator or gun-related injuries.

Although that incident was a false alarm, officers used response tactics they developed following a shooting on campus in 2002, when a disgruntled student shot and killed three professors at the nursing college before fatally turning the gun on himself.

The surge of shootings and gun-related crimes on college campuses in the past few decades have prompted campus safety officials to revise their active-shooter response plans.

But Friday night’s shootings in a town adjacent to the UC Santa Barbara campus shows how active-shooter plans may need to encompass nearby areas. A 22-year-old gunman allegedly killed seven people, himself included, in a string of shootings and stabbings.

At the time of the 2002 shooting, the standard response to active-shooter situations was for law enforcement officials to “wait for  SWAT to show up,” or “surround the building, make sure we had plenty of resources before we go in and take care of the problem,” according to Officer George Eppley of the University of Arizona Police Department, in an interview with The College Fix.

Combined with other firearm-related crimes on college campuses, “the whole philosophy changed,” said Eppley, prompting university law enforcement officials to go back to the drawing board for their active-shooter response tactics.

Now, officers responding to the scene of an active-shooter situation immediately enter the building armed with rifles and the intent to locate and “eliminate” the suspect, Eppley said, meaning shoot to kill.

University law enforcement officials now undergo live-action active-shooter training at least on an annual basis, according to Eppley.

Training involves a simulated situation with a suspect, rifles that shoot paintball rounds and victims sprawled across the floor covered in fake blood with the end goal to go “in and eliminate the bad guy,” Eppley said.

Eppley feels the training effectively prepares officers to respond to the scene of an active-shooter situation, even though it’s just a training exercise.

“When you get there you know it’s all role playing, but when you see people laying on the ground and there’s some type of red food coloring that is on them,” he said, “it looks like the real thing.”

Many other institutions of higher education have begun to revise their response plans in the wake of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, according to Robin Hattersley-Gray, executive editor of Campus Safety magazine.

An effective emergency response plan for active-shooter situations is crucial for the safety and security of college campuses, Hattersley-Gray said.

This year’s edition of the magazine’s annual safety report, The Campus Safety Yearbook, reveals that although 72 percent of campus safety officials are required to undergo some sort of active-shooter training, the current degree of preparation for active-shooter responses is far from ideal.

Only 21 percent of officials strongly agreed that their public safety department had enough, and the appropriate type, of lethal and “less-lethal” weapons to adequately respond to a weapons-related incident.

Less than a third of campus law enforcement and security officials carry lethal weapons on average, according to the study. Only 13 percent of officials carry non-lethal weapons.

Further, only 28 percent of officials felt that campus police officers or other persons responsible for campus security had received suitable training on handling lethal weapons.

However, the greatest challenge that lies ahead in increasing the effectiveness of response tactics is raising awareness and preparedness for active-shooter situations among non-security individuals on campus, said Hattersley-Gray.

Students and faculty should know what a gunshot sounds like, how to alert safety officials to a possible active-shooter situation, points of evacuation for an area and where to seek shelter if evacuation is impossible, according to Hattersley-Gray.

College Fix contributor Julianne Stanford is a student at the University of Arizona.

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Via Lisa Barron of Newsmax:

Florida Atlantic University President Mary Jane Saunders has resigned in the wake of students being asked to stomp on Jesus’ name.

The school announced that she resigned late Tuesday and that FAU Board of Trustees Chairman Anthony Barbar had accepted the resignation. Saunders will remain at FAU to take a faculty position, where she will be assigned a special research project to assess the feasibility of developing a physician’s assistant program at the university.

During the course of the past year, Saunders defended a professor who asked students to stomp on a paper after writing the name “Jesus” on it and a failed attempt to name the football stadium after jail contractor Geo Group. Another FAU professor made news when he suggested the Newtown, Conn., shooting in which 20 schoolchildren were killed never took place.

“There is no doubt the recent controversies have been significant and distracting to all members of the university community,” Saunders wrote in her resignation letter, according to an excerpt posted on the school’s website.

“The issues and the fiercely negative media coverage have forced me to reassess my position as the president of FAU. I must make choices that are the best for the university, me and my family,” she said.

Read more.

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A Florida Atlantic University communications professor known for conspiracy theories who argued the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre “did not happen as reported — or may not have happened at all” called the Boston Marathon bombings a “mass casualty drill.”

On his personal blog, Professor James Tracy questioned government and police accounts of the Boston Marathon bombings, saying the amount of damage shown on the videos and what authorities say caused that damage don’t coincide.

He stated in his post, dated April 23 and titled “Witnessing Boston’s Mass Casualty Event,” that “photographic evidence of the event suggests the possibility of play actors getting into position after the detonation of what may in fact have been a smoke bomb or similarly benign explosive.”

“What exactly took place on April 15 at the Boston Marathon is unclear, yet what is now evident is a stark divergence between the narrative description of excessive carnage meted out as a result of the explosive devices and at least a portion of the video and photographic documentation of the bombing itself,” Tracy stated on his blog post.

“The event closely resembles a mass-casualty drill, which for training purposes are designed to be as lifelike as possible,” he continued. “Since it is mediated, however, and primarily experienced from afar through the careful assemblage of words, images, and the official pronouncements and commentary of celebrity journalists, it has the semblance of being for all practical purposes ‘real.’ ”

“Reports arising in the Boston bombing’s aftermath suggest how local authorities in possible coordination with the Department of Homeland Security were in the process of carrying out such drills, complete with the announcement of bombs being detonated and bomb-sniffing dogs present at the start and finish lines.”

Tracy’s current line of thought follows a similar one he promulgated after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in mid-December in Newtown, Conn.

At that time, he claimed in radio interviews and on his blog that “trained ‘crisis actors’ may have been employed by the Obama administration in an effort to shape public opinion in favor of the event’s true purpose: gun control.”

Tracy’s blog is not affiliated with Florida Atlantic University. His comments about the Newtown massacre prompted outrage across the nation.

Click here to read his entire post.

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IMAGE: James Tracy blog screen shot

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In the “People’s Republic of Boulder,” by City Council decree, residents are known as “pet guardians,” and now they’ve stretched their roles to guardians of wild life as well.

On Sunday, about 50 people gathered at Pearl Street Mall for a candlelight vigil to demand justice for an adult, male elk shot by a police officer in a suburban Boulder neighborhood on New Year’s Day.

To honor the elk, participants played recordings of elk bugling from their cell phones. They passed out flyers to passersby. They vowed to mount pressure on police as the investigation continues. In addition to the vigil, a silent march took place recently as well.

Since the shooting, town meetings have been held. The chief of police has made statements. An announcement from the district attorney on whether charges will be filed against the police officer, who reportedly failed to handle the situation by the book, is expected today.

Meanwhile, in interviews with The College Fix, some CU Boulder students offered a different perspective, calling the reactions a bit much, even insulting.

Junior Taylor Lane, 20, said she thought the vigil was “extreme.”

“So many people in Boulder are concerned with our ecological, or ethical, facade and this is a perfect example,” she said. “One animal was shot out of season. I’m certain more than that are hit by traffic on a daily basis.”

What’s more, the Boulder community did not hold a vigil for the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn., in mid-December, in which a classroom of young students were gunned down by a mentally unstable gunman.

Senior Mitchell Whitus, 20, said he feels the Boulder community reacted “to the wrong thing.”

“I saw a report on Channel 4 about the vigil, and a lady who was there compared the shooting of the elk to the Sandy Hook shooting,” he said. “I’m appalled that they would compare the shooting to the massacre of children. Why not hold a vigil for the Sandy Hook shooting, instead? It is crazy.”

Nearly half of Boulder’s residents are registered Democrats, and the city is widely understood as the home of “pet guardians” and environmentalists.

Nevertheless, their reaction to the elk shooting also runs in stark contrast to the lack of any uproar over a bear that was tranquilized on the CU Boulder campus last year, then found dead after being hit by a car.

Meanwhile, other students felt the Boulder community used the elk as a symbol to gather around, but failed to hit on the bigger question of the police officer’s conduct in shooting the beloved creature.

Senior Elizabeth Coombs, 22, said the elk is the wrong target.

“I think we should focus on the potential abuse of power by the officer if he was, indeed, on duty when he shot the elk,” she said.

Fix contributor Aslinn Scott is a student at CU Boulder.

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If another Ambrose Bierce comes along to update The Devil’s Dictionary, “national conversation” ought to have an entry.

We are constantly receiving invitations to the “national conversation”—about abortion, the death penalty, same-sex marriage, trans fats. It sounds nice: Every red, white, and blue-blooded American tucks in at the table for a calm, measured discussion in which everyone’s views are heard, and at the end we come to a conclusive plan of action that makes everyone happy. Or at least dissatisfies everyone equally.

It is an agreeably democratic canard, giving the hoi polloi the impression that it has some input in what happens, and giving those who say it the all-important sheen of open-mindedness.

Neither is true, of course, but the phrase coats predetermined positions in a sparkling patina of reasonableness. It’s no surprise, then, that House minority leader Nancy Pelosi’s recently called for a “national conversation” on gun control in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown.

But of course, America can’t have “national conversations.” We’re too many, too scattered. That is why the Founders created a republic. Our representatives have the conversation for us, in a venue where every voice can, in fact, be heard.

And tragedies make especially bad occasions for a “national conversation.” An entire country’s blood is up, clamoring for justice and answers, suddenly willing to go to every extreme to prevent future bloodshed. It’s a pity—but not a surprise—that days after the events in Newtown acclaimed novelist Joyce Carol Oates tweeted, “If sizable numbers of NRA members become gun-victims themselves, maybe hope for legislation of firearms?” She was only one of many whose responses ranged from foolish to downright vicious. But we expect some emotional instability in the aftermath of such an event. Which is precisely why it’s a bad time to make policy.

Moreover, a month after the tragedy in Newtown, the news cycle has moved on—to the fiscal cliff, the debt crisis, the president’s Cabinet nominations—and whatever conversation remains is happening among Joe Biden and a small committee of Congressmen behind closed doors somewhere on Capitol Hill. If it is happening at all. With political careers, massive amounts of money, and influence at stake, Capitol Hill is all too often where genuine debate goes to die.

Is there any alternative? The attempt to mask political objectives—in Pelosi’s case, strong national gun control legislation—in openness to bipartisan conversation ought to serve as a reminder that our most difficult, impassioned conversations can only happen with any true intellectual seriousness in a place that takes intellectual seriousness seriously. For a great deal of Western history, that was the university.

Unfortunately, that is rarely the case anymore. Four days after the shooting in Newtown, 160 college and university presidents signed an “open letter to our nation’s policy leaders” calling for “rational gun safety measures” and opposing any legislation that would permit gun possession on college campuses.

Too often the denizens of the modern academy forget the advice of French essayist Joseph Joubert, that “it is better to raise a question without deciding it than to decide a question without raising it.”

And the tragedy at Newtown—and our reactions—raises large and important questions. But intellectual flippancy leads to conclusions like Vice President Biden’s, who recently declared, “If your actions result in only saving one life, they’re worth taking.” That sort of tortured logic makes for sentimental appeal but for absurd policy. Gun control legislation is not just a matter of saving lives (if it will do even that is a point of contention); it requires a careful evaluation of the meaning of the Second Amendment and of the relationship of the federal government to the individual. Questions about mental health require the same cautious thought: At what point does a person’s individual freedom need to become subject to the state’s regulation?

Grappling honestly and seriously with such questions has, historically, been the province of the university, where a dedication to truth and clarity has been more important than political advocacy. That is much more difficult on campuses where political agenda and classroom curriculum have become indistinguishable.

In modern America, the moments that call for long, careful attention to large questions are those in which the intellectual poverty of a great portion of the cloistered policymaking class becomes most acutely apparent. But wise policymaking demands such studied reflection.

The university, in its classic, pre-politicized incarnation, can serve as the place for that task—for the deep and thoughtful consideration of complex and challenging questions. And if the resulting judicious university culture can maintain its integrity, it can become a check on overhasty action and an alternative to our empty rhetorical niceties. It can be—again—the place of real conversation.

Fix contributor Ian Tuttle is a student at St. John’s College.

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