School Shootings: An EduInReview Perspective
School shootings are an uncomfortable reality. They stun us and clutter our headlines with dark reminders of the depths of human depravity. As a community passionate about promoting safe education, EduInReview could not stay silent on this issue. It’s time to clear the partisan airs surrounding these heart-breaking and divisive events.
SCHOOL SHOOTING STATISTICS
School shootings are an issue best examined through an objective, logical lens. Please note that in the context below, ‘school shooting’ references any incident on an educational campus where a gun was involved. This includes suicides and events that ended without injury. It should also be noted that many governmental organizations are limited in their ability to research guns and gun-related violence.
With that cleared up, here are ten statistics about school shootings gathered from a combination of Every Town and Campus Safety:
- Since 1999, at least 150,000 students at 170 primary and secondary schools have experienced an on-campus shooting
- There were 294 school shootings in the United States between January of 2013 and March of 2018.
- About 95 percent of the attackers were students at the campus where the attack occurred
- Most attackers used guns as their primary weapons.
- The guns used to carry out these attacks tended to come from either the shooter’s home or a close friend or relative.
- Over half the events occurred at K-12 schools and only 76 incidents took place at a college or university
- 98 percent of the attackers experienced a major loss just prior to the incident, while 71 percent of attackers felt bullied or threatened
- More than half of the attacks occurred during the school day
- Researchers found that test scores decreased in schools that experienced a school shooting.
FIVE TALES OF SCHOOL SHOOTINGS
To better understand the issue, we will look at five specific incidents and the resulting aftermath.
Columbine High School:
This incident is often thought to mark a shift in school-related violence and is considered one of the most pivotal school shootings in history. On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 12 students and injured 24 others before committing suicide. They made use of a shotgun, 99 explosives, and a variety of knives. The entire incident lasted less than an hour. But, the debate it sparked persisted for years afterward. A variety of factors, including anti-depressants, long-term bullying, and psychopathic tendencies were thought to play a part in sparking the massacre.
Sandy Hook Elementary School:
This incident shocked many due to the young age of the children involved. On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza not only gunned down 20 children between 6 and 7 years of age but also killed six staff members. Adam Lanza, who was 20 years old at the time, ultimately took his own life. This incident would go down as the deadliest shooting at a grade school or a high school in history. It is also the fourth-deadliest shooting carried out by a single perpetrator in US history. Severe mental health problems were thought to be a motivating factor.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School:
Valentine’s Day of 2018 was not a happy day in Parkland, Florida. Nicolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, chose that day to open fire on his classmates. In the aftermath, 17 people were dead and many more wounded. Disguising himself as just another terrified student, Cruz escaped the campus. He was later arrested by the Broward County Sheriff’s department. His motives are unclear; however, he had previously been reported to the FBI for making school shooting-related threats. The students affected by this shooting have been crediting with changing the gun debate.
Santana High School:
Charles Andrew Williams killed 2 classmates and wounded 13 others on March 5, 2001. Prior to the shooting, the boy was having a tough go of it. But, a public scolding by a teacher proved to be the last straw. Citing bullying as a main reason for the attack, Williams was later arrested.
Marysville Pilchuck High School:
In the days leading up to the shooting, Jaylen Fryberg’s friends described his behavior as normal. But, that did not stop the 15-year-old from fatally shooting four of his classmates and wounding a fifth. Text messages discovered after Fryberg’s suicide revealed that his attack resulted from a recent break-up.
Though gun control arguments span a wide spectrum, they can be divided into two main groups:
The Stalwart Right:
People on this side of the argument often consider themselves Republicans. They are people who deeply cherish the second amendment and believe government operates best when it’s tiny. They tend to align with the NRA and prefer gun laws to remain as they are. When it comes to preventing further campus-based gun violence, their plans typically revolve around making our campuses more battle-ready.
The Limiting Liberals:
Those on the left believe that school shootings result from a hellish mixture of mental illness and easy access to firearms. They also support stricter background checks and implementing nation-wide bans on assault rifles and high-ammunition rounds. They also tend to promote easier access to mental health services and funneling additional funding into bullying-prevention programs.
Other solutions include withholding the names of attackers to prevent copycat incidents, installing a second door in every classroom, employing law enforcement to specifically monitor school threats, and repealing the second amendment. Regardless of what our lawmakers decide, we must all be part of the solution. Some have suggested simulations employing the best airsoft guns with fake shooters to be run at schools. This would teach groups of people how to manage and avoid the threat of a shooting.
THE POWER OF STUDENTS
Students can be powerful advocates on either side of the aisle. The Atlantic, for example, say that the advocacy of Parkland students has ‘changed the gun debate.’ If you’re interested in making schools a safer place, consider placing a call to your local representatives, or becoming a part of the #NeverAgain movement launched by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
When gunmen open fire on campuses, K12 or collegiate, the very country is shaken to its core. Such attacks fly in the face of everything our country believes in. Schools should be a place of inclusion and education, not fear. But, that does not mean we can stick our heads in the sand every time the issue fades from the headlines.
Before you choose your alma mater, take a moment and research your prospective school’s safety record, security, and active shooter plans. The life saved might be your own.