NEW YORK – Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a part of Everytown, today announced that its School Shootings Index surpassed more than two hundred school shootings in America since January 2013, when Everytown began tracking any time a firearm is discharged on school grounds. The index stands at 201 today following two recent school shootings at Davenport University in Caledonia, MI, and Alabama A&M University, in Huntsville, AL.
In these 201 school shootings since January 2013:
- There have been at least 63 gun homicides.
- There have been at least 156 injuries by gunfire, including 137 assaultive injuries and 19 unintentional injuries by gunfire.
- There have been at least 31 suicides, and three additional attempted suicides.
- Texas and Georgia have experienced the most school shootings, with 19 and 18 incidents respectively, followed by Florida with 17 incidents, North Carolina with 13 incidents, and Tennessee with 11 incidents.
- Nearly half of these incidents (93, or 46 percent) took place on a college or university campus. A third (63, or 31 percent) took place on a high school campus, and more than 10 percent (27, or 13 percent) took place on the grounds of an elementary school.
- In more than one in six incidents (35 of 201), what began as a verbal altercation escalated into a shooting, due to the presence of a gun.
- Of the shootings that occurred when a child brought a gun to an elementary, middle or high school, and for which the source of the firearm was known, more than half (11 of 20 incidents) of those children obtained the gun from their home – likely because an adult did not store it responsibly.
- Gun violence in American schools disproportionately impacts students of color. Although African-Americans make up 13 percent of the population, of non-shooter victims in which the race of the victim was identified, 39 percent (47 of 122) were black; 45 percent (55 of 122) were white, and 10 percent (12 of 122) were non-white Hispanic.
“There have been more than 200 school shootings in less than four years, and lockdown drills have become a part of our schools’ standard safety,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Meanwhile, the NRA’s extremist leadership and the candidate they’ve endorsed for president – Donald Trump – are pushing a “guns everywhere” agenda which includes putting guns in our children’s schools.”
Research and the Fight Against Guns in Schools
School shootings and the presence of guns in our schools have long-term negative and disruptive effects on students and school communities as a whole.
- Just last week a new report from the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research concluded that allowing guns on college campuses is unlikely to reduce high-casualty shootings, and in fact, is more likely to lead to more shootings, including homicides and suicides on campus, especially among students.
- A recent analysis by researchers at Louisiana State University and the University of Missouri on fatal shootings at high schools found that events involving a homicide reduced student enrollment in the affected schools and depressed standardized test scores by nearly 5 percent.
Yet despite this research, the gun lobby continues to push legislation in statehouses across the country to allow guns in K-12 schools and to force guns onto college campuses. However, their attempts are by and large falling short due to gun safety advocates, parents, teachers, students and the educational community pushing back against their extremist agenda.
- Guns in Schools: In 2016, bills were introduced in 15 states to allow guns in K-12 schools. None of these bills passed. Legislation that would allow guns in schools is still pending in Michigan and Pennsylvania.
- Guns on Campus: Bills that would force colleges to allow guns on campus were introduced in 18 states in 2016. Tennessee was the only state to pass such a bill this year, and it was a limited version that only forced colleges to allow certain employees (and not students) to carry guns on campus—and Republican Governor Haslam was not willing to sign his name to it. Legislation that would force colleges to allow guns on campus is still pending in Michigan.
In addition to pushing back against the extremist NRA leadership’s guns in schools agenda, Everytown and Moms Demand Action run BeSMART, a public education campaign encouraging responsible firearm storage to reduce the number of unintentional child shootings, suicides, and homicides that occur when children or teens get ahold of a gun.
“When a gun goes off in the sanctity of an American school, it strikes fear into students, educators and parents, and tears at the fabric of the entire community,” Watts said. “We don’t have to live by lockdown drills. School shootings are not inevitable acts of nature; they are the result of a man-made failure of action. No developed nation is subjecting their students to gunfire. School shootings are entirely preventable, which is why we’re working so hard every day to keep guns out of schools and to advocate for responsible firearm storage that will help keep our children safe.”
Defining School Shootings in America: Racial Implications
The Everytown School Shootings Index uses a straightforward and comprehensive definition for a school shooting: any time a firearm is discharged inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds, as documented by the press and confirmed through further inquiries with law enforcement. Events in which guns were brought into schools but not fired, or were fired off school grounds after having been possessed in schools, are not included.
In the past, media outlets, including The Washington Post’s Fact Checker by Glenn Kessler, have sought to narrowly define school shootings as only active shooter events that resemble what happened in Newtown – excluding events that include personal arguments, unintentional shootings, gang violence and suicide. By doing this, these media outlets have discounted the lives of African American students and other students of color who were affected by gun violence in their schools.
- When the Washington Post published its “fact check” on Everytown’s School Shootings Index, the index included 127 school shootings at the time, and the Post excluded 117 of them, eliminating more than 90 percent of the shootings by limiting their list to “incidents that were similar to shooting in Newtown, with one shooter opening fire with the intent to kill or injure multiple victims.”
- In doing so, the Washington Post whitewashed school violence by removing 100 percent of shootings in which an African-American victim was assaulted or killed, deeming 27 deaths and injuries in shootings on school grounds undeserving of mention, which severely misrepresents what gun violence in our schools looks like.
By embracing a definition of school shooting that only includes “Newtown-like” events with an “active shooting” inside a (usually suburban, mostly white) school, media and others distort the reality of gun violence in America. In particular, by removing the incidents of gun violence affecting students of color from the school shootings index, media commentators–whether deliberately or not–discount the lives and experiences of many American children who are directly impacted, whether physically or emotionally, by gun violence in their schools.
“Nearly four years ago, on January 16th, 2013, my only child, Tyrone was shot and killed after attending a high school basketball game – one of the two hundred school shootings nationwide since January 2013,” said Pamela Wright, whose son Tyrone Lawson was killed in the crossfire of a gun fight after a high school basketball game in Chicago. “There are media outlets that refuse to count what happened to Tyrone as a school shooting. They narrowly define school shootings by removing anything that resembles so-called ‘gang violence,’ as well as unintentional shootings and suicides. But Americans know that the safety of our children is threatened any time a gun is fired on all school grounds. May these more than two hundred shootings serve as a somber reminder that we must do more to keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them and out of all schools. The safety of our children depends on it.”
The narrow definition of school shootings has also bolstered the myth – created and perpetuated by the gun lobby – that the greatest and only threat from guns in schools comes from intruder-like shootings, which they use to support their push for legislation to put more guns in schools. Everytown and Moms Demand Action seek to address gun violence in all American communities – and in all schools without any qualification of the circumstances or how many people are shot or injured.