How we tracked gun vi­o­lence across the coun­try since Park­land

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Since Parkland - BY CAITLIN OSTROFF [email protected]­clatchydc.com Caitlin Ostroff: 305-376- 4430, ceostroff

In the wake of the Park­land mas­sacre, McClatchy and The Trace, a non­profit news or­ga­ni­za­tion that cov­ers gun-re­lated news, tracked the deaths of young peo­ple 18 and un­der through­out the United States in the year since Park­land.

The or­ga­ni­za­tions pulled in­for­ma­tion on gun-in­volved deaths of school-age chil­dren from the non­profit re­search group Gun Vi­o­lence Archive, which culls re­ports of gun-in­volved in­ci­dents from more than 2,000 me­dia sources. To com­pare deaths in the year since Park­land to those be­fore, McClatchy clas­si­fied each year as start­ing on Feb. 14 and end­ing on Feb. 13.

To con­firm the data and fill in miss­ing de­tails, McClatchy re­quested in­ci­dent re­ports for each of the deaths from the po­lice agen­cies that in­ves­ti­gated each case. To do this, McClatchy com­piled a data­base of law en­force­ment me­dia and records con­tacts for more than 600 agen­cies and wrote a pro­gram to send records re­quests to each agency.

These, in ad­di­tion to me­dia re­ports, were used to con­firm in­for­ma­tion and clas­sify in­ci­dents as homi­cides, homi­cides as a re­sult of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and ac­ci­den­tal deaths.

The Trace, work­ing with more than 200 stu­dent jour­nal­ists, is pub­lish­ing 100-word pro­files of the vic­tims. The Trace didn’t in­clude pro­files of youths killed in of­fi­cer­in­volved shoot­ings.

FIND­INGS

● Among deaths in the past year of school-age chil­dren, at least 154 were ac­ci­den­tal and 131 were do­mes­tic in­ci­dents. Among the do­mes­tic in­ci­dents, 91 were killed in mur­der-sui­cides, where the shooter killed them­selves after.

● Among cities where the pop­u­la­tion ex­ceeds 50,000, Wilm­ing­ton, Delaware, and Youngstown, Ohio, had the high­est rates of gun-in­volved deaths.

● Older teens 14-18, were most com­monly vic­tims of gun vi­o­lence, fol­lowed by chil­dren ages 2 and 3.

● More gun-in­volved deaths oc­cur in the South than any other re­gion. The re­gion ac­counts for 38 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion but nearly half of the deaths.

LIM­I­TA­TIONS

As Gun Vi­o­lence Archive pulls from me­dia re­ports, known in­ci­dents of gun vi­o­lence are lim­ited to what is re­ported by po­lice and news or­ga­ni­za­tions. In­ci­dents not cov­ered by lo­cal news out­lets or in­ci­dents that oc­cur where there are no lo­cal news out­lets may not be re­flected.

News or­ga­ni­za­tions also gen­er­ally do not re­port on sui­cides, so those are not re­flected in the Gun Vi­o­lence Archive. The Cen­ters for Disease Con­trol and Preven­tion es­ti­mates the num­ber of firearm-in­volved sui­cides for ages 18 and younger in 2017 to be more than 950, based on death cer­tifi­cates from 34 states.

While McClatchy and The Trace were suc­cess­ful in get­ting about 350 ini­tial in­ci­dent re­ports, the rest could not be ob­tained. Some that were re­ceived had cru­cial in­for­ma­tion redacted.

● Four states (Arkansas, Delaware, Ten­nessee and Vir­ginia) can deny the re­lease of in­for­ma­tion to non-res­i­dents, of­ten re­quir­ing a state ID as proof of res­i­dency.

● Many agen­cies didn’t re­lease re­ports due to on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

● The amount of in­for­ma­tion re­ported by each agency in the ini­tial in­ci­dent re­port var­ied greatly. Some states pro­hibit the re­lease of the name of the child killed. Some agen­cies did not in­clude race, sum­maries of events or the type of weapon used.

In in­stances where McClatchy was un­able to ob­tain the re­port, in­for­ma­tion was checked with mul­ti­ple sources where pos­si­ble.

AMONG DEATHS IN THE PAST YEAR OF SCHOOL-AGE CHIL­DREN, AT LEAST 154 WERE AC­CI­DEN­TAL AND 131 WERE DO­MES­TIC IN­CI­DENTS. AMONG THE DO­MES­TIC IN­CI­DENTS, 91 WERE KILLED IN MUR­DER-SUI­CIDES, WHERE THE SHOOTER KILLED THEM­SELVES AFTER.

DEFINITIONS

Mur­der-sui­cide: Deaths in which the shooter killed him­self or her­self after shoot­ing the vic­tim.

Do­mes­tic: Deaths in which the shooter is a fam­ily mem­ber, a vic­tim’s cur­rent or for­mer ro­man­tic part­ner or a fam­ily mem­ber’s cur­rent or for­mer ro­man­tic part­ner.

Ac­ci­den­tal: Deaths in which the weapon dis­charged with­out in­tent or when chil­dren got a hold of a firearm and un­in­ten­tion­ally shot them­selves or an­other.

EMILY MICHOT emi­[email protected]­ami­her­ald.com

15-year-old Doris Ericka Dorsey was buried at the Sil­ver­brook Ceme­tery in Wilm­ing­ton on June 28, 2018. Dorsey is one of the vic­tims of gun vi­o­lence.

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