The Data on US School Shootings
Mass shootings on school grounds in the US have killed a staggering number of students over the past five years, bringing the total count of such incidents to a record high.
On April 16, four people were killed and gravely injured at a teen birthday party shooting in Alabama. Although no official data has been released, witnesses have informed that a chunk of the injured were teens, among whom a few have passed away. This is only among numerous tragic occurrences pertaining to gun violence in the country. Gun death among US children has been on the rise, increasing by 50% between 2019 and 2021, according to Pew Research Centre.
Annual data on gun violence
Gun violence took over car accidents as the leading cause of death among children in America. Data collected by Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence reveals that 7,957 children and teens (ages 1-17) on an average are shot per year, with the majority of the cases being homicides rather than suicides. Among the total estimated number, 992 cases of death were of gun murder, 99 of unintentional injury, 10 of legal intervention and 38 of unknown causes. 693 children were found to die from gun suicide.
The gathered figures evidently depict the prevalence of gun homicides among children which is contrary to the total gun deaths in the US where gun suicides take the lead. However, particularly, gun suicides accounted for 30% of the total child gun deaths in 2021, raising the annual count to 1,078 in that year.
Rise in US school shootings
In 2022 alone, there were 51 reported school shootings in the US, of which the Robb Elementary School tragedy was recorded to be the second deadliest school shooting in the country. According to Education Week, within the first week of 2023, 15 similar incidents were reported.
Figures from the last few years show that school shootings in the US have surged to a record high, from 47 cases in 2016-17 to 145 cases in 2020-21. The numbers have risen sharply, faltering a little in 2020 with the advent of the pandemic. The number of shootings recorded in that year was 21.
However, in the following year itself, school shootings in the US reached a "20- year high", as per federal data.
Common locations of school shootings
According to government data, parking lots were found to be the most common location of school shootings with an estimated 51 cases taking place there. Other common locations included sports fields, school buses and areas beside or in front of school buildings.
The data conveys an urgent need for the improvement of safety precautions in the listed locations. With increased security checking, such horrifying incidents could be avoided to some extent.
School shootings in the US v/s other major countries
The Journal of TRAUMA, Injury, Infection, and Critical Care reports that of all gun deaths among children (ages 0 to 14) in developed countries, 87% occur in the US. VCU homeland security expert William V. Pelfrey Jr. spoke to VCU, elaborating on the possible reasons for this. He explained, "In the U.S., you can walk into a gun store and buy as many assault rifles as you want if you have cash and are over 18 and you meet just a couple of other loose criteria."
However, after the Robb Elementary massacre of 2022, Texas Governor Greg Abbott committed to $105.5 million support to prevent the occurrence of such incidents. Following the Nashville school shooting, President Joe Biden condemned gun violence and called upon the Congress to pass an assault weapons ban.
With such measures, combined with stricter gun licenses, the US can possibly prevent school shootings in the near future, provided their timely implementation and sufficient inspection.
Written by Krittika Majumder
This data-driven article has been written by a student journalist as part of the April'23 cohort of the Re-Imagining Media Program.