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The shooting statistics are clear — it’s not schools that are most dangerous for students

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Every day, 42 Americans die in gun homicides, the grim backdrop against which to talk about school shootings. In the three months between the 10 shot dead in Santa Fe, Texas, on Friday, and the 17 in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, around 4,000 Americans lost their lives in firearms homicides.

In the initial horror following a school shooting, we witness the “thoughts and prayers,” finger-wagging from politicians not wanting to “politicize” the shooting, and promises to “do something.” Then, just as predictably, nothing happens.

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Or, worse, bad things are done. The survivors of the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida, took center stage to argue passionately for action, and adults initially appeared to be listening. Gov. Rick Scott signed a reform bill into law, but on balance, it does more harm than good.  The limited beneficial steps, such as modestly extending background checks and waiting periods on potential gun buyers and banning “bump stocks,” accompanied popular but ineffectual measures such as raising the gun-buying age to 21. Also one very, very bad idea: procedures to arm more teachers and school officers.

But whether those steps will change anything is unlikely. That’s because, while shootings at schools are terrible, it’s not the schools that are the problem. The real problem is that America as a whole is dangerous. As crazy as it might sound after the mass school shootings in the last two decades at Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, and now Santa Fe High School, it’s true: We should be exploring ways to make the rest of society as safe from guns as schools are.

That means doing something Americans find hard with it comes to evaluating risks and designing policy: incorporating critical perspective.

Over the 12 months leading up to May 18, 2018, a gun was fired in 63 American schools, including 24 where homicides occurred. We can all agree that should be zero.

However, it is crucial to point out that the United States has 130,000 public and private elementary and secondary schools attended by 52 million students and 5 million teachers and staff.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projections indicate during the past 12 months Americans suffered approximately 15,500 gun homicides (along with 31,000 gun injuries).  Of these, Everytown for Gun Safety reports (and including Friday’s shooting in Texas), 38 gun deaths and 71 injuries occurred in or around a school.

Per person-hour spent at school (based on 93 percent attendance and an eight-hour school day, 180 days per year), students and adults in America’s schools are only slightly more likely to be gun homicide victims than the general population in Denmark.

For all gun killings (including homicides, suicides, and accidents), American schools are safer than most of western Europe.

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School time occupies around one-sixth of school-age children’s total hours, but schools are the sites of fewer than 3 percent of students’ gun homicides; the other 97 percent occur somewhere other than school. In fact, the most likely place for a child to be shot and killed is at home, with the shooter most likely to be an adult in the household.

Features that make American schools and modern teenagers uniquely safe from shootings could inform social and gun policies in a country whose overall gun homicide rate is 15 times higher than in other Western countries.

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First, there are very few guns in schools at present. Unfortunately, responses to school shootings include proposals like President Donald Trump’s to arm 20 percent of teachers. If implemented, that would mean 800,000 more armed adults in schools, which would only add to the numbers of school shootings by teachersprincipalsschool officers, and law enforcement.

Second, schools are occupied by millions of preteen and teenage students, a demographic that, contrary to popular stereotype, has uniquely low rates of gun homicides. CDC data show that since the early 1990s, the number of teenage homicides by gun has dropped 50 percent nationally, far more than for other age groups. Nationally, FBI estimates indicate arrests of youths for gun homicides have fallen by nearly 80 percent over the last generation to levels well below those of adults.

In 1990, middle school and high school teens (ages 13 to 18) had gun homicide rates 50 percent above the average for all ages. Today, students 13 to 18 have below-average gun homicide rates.

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Third, enhancing the first two trends, youths who stay in school, graduate, and attend college suffer gun homicide death rates just one/25th that of dropouts (by definition, a population unlikely to be at school). Since 1990, the school dropout rate among teenagers and young adults has fallen by 60 percent while college enrollments and graduationshave risen, making today’s students singularly gun-averse.

The emerging student movement against gun violence should be raising two key points: younger generations themselves have made stunning progress toward reducing shootings and making schools and students safe, and that progress deserves attention and study rather than continued fearmongering. Reducing poverty and education costs, along with background checks and bans on high-capacity weapons offer promise for decreasing gun suicide rates and domestic killings, and, eventually, mass shootings.

The worthy goal of making campuses safer still is being warped by the myth that they’re uniquely dangerous. Basing perception and policy on rare mass shootings and obsolete prejudices against teenagers invites panicked, harmful responses. Far from keeping their kids home out of fear of gun violence, Americans should feel safer when kids are in school.

Mike Males wrote this article for YES! Magazine. Mike is senior researcher for the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, San Francisco.

Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Georgia GOP governor orders several beaches to reopen days after acknowledging he’s woefully uneducated on coronavirus spread

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The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported today that Kemp is reopening Tybee Island and other beaches along the Georgia coast.

Local officials in several of Georgia’s coastal communities reacted with fury on Saturday after Gov. Brian Kemp’s shelter-in-place order simultaneously reopened several of the state’s most popular beaches.

The stupidity and lack of regard of human life on display in Republican-run states is beyond criminal and inhumane. In fact, there are no words to describe this. Because the longer these so-called “leaders” make decisions that are in the best interests of, I don’t know who, the longer it will take to come out of this pandemic that is claiming so many thousands of lives.

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Health care insurers expected to jack up premiums as much as 40 percent to recoup coronavirus losses

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Private health insurers are expected to raise premiums by as much as 40% to recoup the costs of coronavirus testing and treatment, according to a new analysis from Covered California, the state's health care marketplace.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Though it remains unclear how much the coronavirus crisis will ultimately cost in health care expenditures, insurers will be submitting their 2021 rates to state regulators next month. Analyzing a wide range of models, Covered California expects that this year's care associated with the virus will cost between $34 billion and $251 billion, or between 2% of premiums and 21% of premiums. The analysis estimates that insurers would price the costs at double the rate into their 2021 premiums, projecting increases that range from as little as 4% to more than 40% for the 170 million workers and individuals who have private plans.

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2020 Election

Trump appears to have fraudulently manipulated financial markets yet again

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

It was a busy week for the regime, as Trump and his team work tirelessly to manage the political fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, but it seems like he made time for some fraud.

In March, global oil prices crashed as a result of a dispute between Russia and the Saudis, dragging down stock markets and making it unprofitable to extract shale oil, which accounts for almost two-thirds of crude oil production in the U.S.

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