America's history of school shootings

America's history of school shootings
Copyright via REUTERS
By Alice Cuddy
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As debates rage on over gun control, we look back at America's history of school shootings.


Debate is raging in the US over the country’s gun control policies and their link to school shootings, but how common are these attacks?

According to data from gun safety movement Every Town, there have been 43 shootings in schools in the US so far this year. 

Every Town defines a school shooting as "any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds," regardless of whether or not the shooting results in injury or death.

Of those, 16 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 more that 300 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.

Ten people were killed and 10 others injured at a shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas on May 18 by a 17-year-old pupil.  

It came just months after a shooting at a high school in Florida in February became the third deadliest to be recorded at a school or university in the US since 1999.

Deadly shootings

The attack at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School launched by 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz left 17 students and staff dead.

In the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, a senior at the university shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others in two separate attacks before killing himself, while the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting saw 20-year-old Adam Lanza kill 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 5,496 people have been killed in gun violence in the US and 10,036 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 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 school shootings prove that stricter gun controls need to be put in place.

Following the Florida shooting, 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.

But others argued that mental health issues are the real reason for such attacks, rather than gun policies.

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