Letter to Editor: Predicting casualties appears misleading

I found Ms. Amye Ellsworth’s recent article in the Easterner on mass shootings (”Predicting Casualties”) fairly bizarre. I understand that she writes with the best of intentions, but the content came across as misleading and a bit fear-mongering. Before criticizing the article itself, I think it’s worthy to note that the front page of that week’s publication featured what appears to be a sinister-looking assault rifle. Digging a bit deeper, we see that handguns actually account for most casualties in mass shootings, according to an infographic in the article itself! That’s a bit odd, but perhaps merely some designer’s personal aesthetic fancy. Misleading in any case.

Seemingly discredited Philip Bump is once again given a voice in Amye’s writing. In bright, large font — ”Our intention was to say the people of Spokane should be as worried as anyone else in America —not overly [worried] but conscious of the fact that this could happen. It happens all too often.” Well, yes. Any time an innocent civilian is killed, it’s a tragedy. Even once would be too often. Thanks for the tip, Mr. Bump. I guess the best course of action here is to assume everyone around me is some sort of Schrödinger’s spree killer. Don’t assume it too much, but you know, just be conscious of the fact that they are.

Another bit of fine journalism comes in the form of telling us oafish readers that according to Bump, incidence of mass shootings correlates with state population. Who would have thought? You mean more bad things happen in places where there are more people? Having taken a couple of statistics-related courses myself, I could correlate just about anything with incidence of mass shootings and make a pretty color-coded map. That doesn’t mean the information is in any way useful.

Finally, one last amusing bit, and here my chaffing is directed not at Ms. Ellsworth but at EWU’s policy, which is neatly outlined in the bottom of the page. Slightly rephrased: ”In the event of a shooting on campus in which you’re unable to escape a shooter and are at a far enough distance, try playing dead.” Sounds like solid advice. There’s more: ”[F]ight back only as a last resort. Use any potentially harmful nearby objects as weapons.” You mean, something like … a personal handgun? No wait, those are banned on university grounds. Too bad the murderous bastard coming after me just didn’t bother to read the EWU Weapons on Campus policy, then the whole mess could have been avoided.


Nick Tsyukalo