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America's history of school shootings

An attack at a high school in Florida on Wednesday brought the number of school shootings in the US to 291 since 2013.

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America's history of school shootings

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A shooting at a high school in Florida on Wednesday that left at least 17 people dead has shocked the world, but it is far from the first.

According to data from gun safety movement Every Town, the attack launched by 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz marked the 18th shooting on or around school premises in the US so far this year.

Of those, seven were attacks resulting in either injury or death. Other reported incidents included shootings where no one was injured, and suicides where there was no attempt to injure anyone else.

Since 2013, there have been 291 school shootings in the US, which averages out to about one every week, the gun safety group says.

Last year, 65 shootings were reported at schools and universities. 

The Florida shooting was also the third deadliest recorded at a school or university since 1999.

It was surpassed only by the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, in which a senior at the university shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others in two separate attacks before killing himself. In the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 27 people, including 20 children. 

But Every Town warns that these shootings are “just the tip of the iceberg.”

A report by the Urban Institute found that in the single school district of Washington, DC, there were at least 336 gunshots in the vicinity of schools over the 2011-2012 school year.

While the US makes up 4.4% of the world’s population, it has almost half of the civilian-owned guns in the world.

So far this year, at least 1,827 people have been killed in gun violence in the US and 3,142 injured, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

Why schools?

Adam Lankford, a University of Alabama criminology professor, said a disproportionate amount of global school shootings occur in the US. 

"The US has far more than its share of public mass shooters, but an even higher share of school shooters and workplace shooters specifically," he told Euronews. 

According to Lankford's research into mass shootings, from 1966 to 2012, 62% of all school and workplace shooters were American.

Lankford believes a desire for fame plays a significant role in school shootings. 

"Young people in America are particularly eager for fame (it's one of their top priorities), particularly susceptible to celebrity influence, and particularly likely to engage in imitative or copycat behavior," he told Euronews. 

"This is very dangerous in the context of school shootings, because many are directly seeking fame, killing more victims because they know it will bring them more media attention, influenced by previous 'celebrity' mass killers who became famous in this same way, and prone to imitate them," he said.

The debate

The deadly shooting has reignited debates about gun control in the US.

The Second Amendment of the US Constitution states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

However, many argue that tragic events like the one in Florida prove that stricter gun controls need to be put in place.

Following the shooting on Wednesday, US Representative Jackie Speier tweeted that America’s schools were becoming “killing fields”.

“How many more grieving families and slain children must we see before Congress shatters the moments of silence with meaningful action on common sense gun safety reforms,” she asked.

Her thoughts were echoed by scores of social media users, who tweeted their thoughts under the hashtag #GunControlNow.

Others, including US President Donald Trump, pointed to the assailant's mental health as the cause of the attack.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio tweeted that the shooting was "designed & executed to maximize loss of life" but later said it was too soon to debate whether tighter gun laws could have stopped it.

"You should know the facts of that incident before you run out and prescribe some law that you claim could have prevented it," he told Fox News.