Thursday, October 1, 2015

America and School Shootings

Updated January 2015

I haven't revisited this topic for some time and thought that  it was time to revisit the website, a site that has tracked all school shootings since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012 which claimed 20 children and 6 school staff members.

Everytown for Gun Safety is "...a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities. Gun violence touches every town in America. For too long, change has been thwarted by the Washington gun lobby and by leaders who refuse to take common-sense steps that will save lives."  

Three main groups make up the movement:

1.) Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America which was founded to demand action from both federal and state legislators, corporations and educational institutions to establish gun reforms.  It was founded by Shannon Watts one day after the Sandy Hook shooting.

2.) Mayors Against Illegal Guns: a coalition of more than 1000 current and former majors from small towns and big cities throughout America.

3.) Survivors of gun violence

Everytown for Gun Safety claims that more than 3 million people have joined their movement.

Now, let's look at the statistics collected by Everytown which include the following categories:

Discharged Firearm: the shooter discharged a firearm on school property
Injured 1+ Person: the shooter injured at least one person but did not kill anyone
Killed 1+ Person: the shooter killed at least one person
Attempted Suicide: the shooter attempted to commit suicide but was unsuccessful
Committed Suicide: the shooter was successful at committing suicide

Incidents are classified as school shootings when a firearm is discharged either within school buildings or on school or campus grounds.  Incidents in which firearms are brought into school but not fired are not included.

Here is the listing of school shootings since December 14, 2012 in chronological order up to and including the October school shooting in Oregon:

Since the October shootings at Umpqua College in Oregon, there have been an additional 16 school shootings to the end of 2015

Since Sandy Hook, there has been at least one school shooting every week in the United States and a total of 159 school shootings over just under three years. 

In 2013, there were 36 incidents in which a firearm was discharged on school property.  This rose to 61 in 2014 and in 2015, there were 64 incidents.  

Here are some of the key statistics from the 142 school shooting incidents that took place prior to the most recent mass shooting at Umpqua College:

1.) 34 of the incidents resulted in the deaths of more than one person.

2.) 98 of the incidents resulted in injuries to at least one person.

3.) 62 of the incidents took place on college campuses and 80 of the incidents took place in Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools.

4.) 21 of the shooters were successful at committing suicide and 4 attempted to commit suicide but were unsuccessful.

In the Kindergarten to Grade 12 school shootings that took place in the first two years after the Sandy Hook shooting, 70 percent were perpetrated by minors and where it was possible to determine the source of the firearm, 63 percent of the firearms where obtained from the shooter's home.  More than one-third of the school shootings occurred after a confrontation or verbal argument intensified.

A list of United States school shootings that have taken place between 1979 and 2011 was compiled by Jessie Klein in his research for the "Bully Society: School Shootings and the Crisis of Bullying in America's Schools".  If we include the deaths up to and including the Sandy Hook shooting, since 1979, 297 victims have been claimed in school shootings with 32 at Virginia Tech in 2007, 26 at Sandy Hook in 2012 and 13 at Columbine in 1999 (all excluding the shooter or shooters).

It goes without saying that school should be a safe zone for all students and all staff.  While the incidents of major shootings are relatively rare, an average of one school shooting a week in the United States is one too many.


  1. Now the real question is how to actually make the school safe. There is the more government and more rules and regulations will do that crowd and there is the good guy with a gun crowd. You know the let more people carry their guns in more places group. The whole since 1979 only 297 people died in school shooting is surprising I thought the number was higher. Comes out to about 8 people dying each year. With over 300 million people losing only 8 each year to school shootings is not that bad. I think we need a new boogey man. Many more children were hit and killed by cars each year. More kids died from accidents on playgrounds as well. I would bet although I cant get a breakdown that swings alone kill more kids each year then school shootings Boogey man indeed must scare people into compliance you know.....

    1. I am a Canadian of British decent. Both of the countries has strict gun control laws. Detailed background checks, significant training regimes, stringent storage laws. Canadians and Americans share much socially and culturally. You folks produce better scripted dramas but we are much funnier than you self serious folks. But you kill each with a frequency and violence that has numbed you to the disaster that it is. I would lay big money on a bet that stated that you could not find a single Canadian that thought that "8 each year to school shootings is not too bad". My friend, it is not as a percentage of population or of the number of shootings over all that is of importance here. It is that it happens at all and that you are able to contextualize it so casually. Too large a percentage of the American public have been inured to the senseless deaths of citizens by strangers with a grudge. You are one of them unfortunately. These are not statistics, these are people. Perhaps a greater impression might be made if, instead of 1000s of words and dozens of pictures of vacuous entertainers in mundane spats, those pages were filled with short stories of the people who have been needlessly killed along with pictures of who they were and then of the scenes of their deaths the reality of this endless and senseless series of tragedies might finally hit home.

    2. It is truly sad that you do not see the deaths and injuries of American children being shot AT SCHOOL as that problematic. HOW MANY would have to die before you thought of it as a 'real' problem?!

    3. My first statement was the real question was how to make school safe. I didn't say how I thought was the best way to go about it. I outlined the two biggest political parties in the US (Democrats and republican) talking points. Democrats in favor of more laws and republicans in favor of guns to stop guns. Now to question about violence I guess I as an American I have totally become numb to violence. You can look this stuff up but in general our most popular shows have on average at least 1-3 or more murders committed per episode. Its dramatized or glorified(ie the hero kills a bad guy) No show takes the liberty of maybe the bad guy has kids and a girlfriend he takes care of. Nope he was just a henchmen for a drug dealer or crime boss. his death means nothing. So his death means nothing yes? Well when over time I have probably watched 100s of thousands of fake deaths on TV. I hear every day on the news about the local crimes and death around me again in real life 4+ murders a day plus another 5+ deaths from various accidents and whatnot. That's lets just say for the past 10 years that's about 37k real deaths/murders I have been told of and seen some amount of footage about. So yes I guess I have become numb to it. I'm not saying I'm against the news or death on TV, just putting those facts out there. Then there is the military campaigns that the US is constantly involved in. We hear of successful drone strikes killing this guy or that one. How many people has the US killed by bombing other countries? We are an extremely violent people. What can I do it shrugging my shoulders? Am I wrong that I see the same value in the life of Abu Muslim that got droned as I do in Jimmy Smith little boy or got ran over by a car or Sandra Miller who got kidnapped and murdered by some weirdo or some kid killed in a school shooting or henchman number 3 killed by the hero of the latest popular tv show?? Ponder those questions.

  2. Except from the fact that there are already traffic laws, and reasonable safety measures are in place in school playgrounds. As a citizen of the UK, I can not remember a single shooting apart from Dunblane. It is not a necessary part of life. The only legitimate reason to have a gun as a normal citizen is if you like hunting and then you should have to apply for a hunting license. There is no reasonable reason for requiring a semi-automatic weapon.

    Also, if you look at the trend since 1979 I guess that it would be an increasing trend. As the past few years there have definitely been more than 8 a year, further supporting a need for control.

    1. If you go back in time the fact Americans had guns is why the Queen is no longer their symbolic leader. Supposedly armed citizens can keep the government from running amuck. But I think the US government has found a way around that. So my point being is that guns at least symbolically serve a much deeper purpose in the minds of Americans. Also do to the wide spread illegal ownership of guns by criminals in the US, self and family protection is also another reason for gun ownership. I think the idea of just taking their guns away is a nonstarter for the reasons I listed above.

    2. You know, the US government has drones, tanks & Apache attack helicopters now, right? If the US government wanted to run amuck, you'd be sorely out gunned.

    3. I am also from the UK and I think that Dunblane is the ONLY shoot em up ever. In addition shares nothing in common with these mainly young, mainly students or ex student. The Dunblane murderer middle aged, was suspected of being a paedophile and the community had rejected him.

  3. First, Any child being killed is horrible, but despite the headlines telling you that American schools are comparable to Mogadishu, those occurrences have been trending down for a long time.

    Second, The occurrence of shootings "on school property" is misleading as it makes the reader believe that those actions all took place in a classroom full of kids. Most of the so-called "school shootings" take place after dark when the people hanging out on the property are involved in non-scholastic extra-curricular activities; read between the lines.

    Third, Americans do not like being lectured to by Brits about our "unreasonable" gun laws, for a reason. Ask Piers Morgan. Hey Canada, is the Queen's image still on your currency?

  4. I'm all for schools being safe and no one is going to argue that point. However, before the belief that "we need to do something" results in legislation, get actual facts. Everytown is a lobby group with an agenda. If a teacher commits suicide at home with a gun (while sad) they would claim that is a "school shooting" due to the teacher's link to the school. Every drug deal gone bad on an inner-city school playground at 1am, also a school shooting.

  5. (American) football played by high school and college athletes results in more fatalities than the school shootings mentioned in this article. American football is a part of our culture that I would also choose not to give up to become more European. The alternative, soccer, is just too horrible to imagine....;-)

    football fatalities: