#26: More Guns, More Mass Shootings

Table of Contents

2018 to 2022

There have been 40 school shootings in 2022 year that resulted in injuries or deaths, the most in a single year since Education Week began tracking such incidents. There have been 133 such shootings since 2018. Before 2022, the highest number of school shootings with injuries or deaths was last year when there were 35. There were 10 in 2020, and 24 each in 2019 and 2018.[1] There were 35 school shootings in 2021 that caused injuries or deaths, 25 of which occurred after August 1. A shooting on Nov. 30, in which a student killed four people and injured seven at an Oxford, Mich., high school, was the deadliest school shooting with injuries or deaths since May 2018.

The United States manufactured or imported just over 24.4 million AR-15 and AK-style guns—which are often known as assault rifles or modern sporting rifles—from 1990 to 2020, a firearm industry group estimated Wednesday, with a record number added in 2020, as Democratic lawmakers call to ban the sale of the popular weapons amid the mounting toll of mass shootings carried out with them.[2] While there is little reporting on which guns were used at which school shootings, it is assumed that all school shooters used assault style  weapons to kill students.

The Sandy Hook Promise

Gun violence and school shootings are a uniquely American epidemic. Sandy Hook Promise is shining a light on these vital facts and statistics.[3] 

1. Each day 12 children die from gun violence in America. Another 32 are shot and injured.

2. Guns are the leading cause of death among American children and teens. 1 out of 10 gun deaths are age 19 or younger.

3. Firearm deaths occur at a rate more than 5 times higher than drownings.

4. The U.S. has had 2,032 school shootings since 1970 and these numbers are increasing. Alarmingly, 948 school shootings have taken place since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

5. School shootings have returned to pre-COVID levels and by some accounts have even increased. However, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security research shows that if we “know the signs” of gun violence, we can prevent it and reverse the trend.

6. Since the historic attack at Columbine High School in 1999, nearly 300,000 students have been on campus during a school shooting6. There is help for victims and survivors of gun violence. 

7. About 4.6 million American children live in a home where at least one gun is kept loaded and unlocked.  These improperly stored weapons have contributed to school shootings, suicides, and the deaths of family members, including infants and toddlers.

8. Nearly half of all parents with a weapon in the home wrongly believe their children don’t know where a gun is stored.8 Safe storage of firearms prevents tragedies.

9. In 4 out of 5 school shootings, at least one other person knew of the attacker’s plan but did not report it.

10. In a comprehensive school shooting study, the Secret Service and Department of Education found that 93% of school shooters planned the attack in advance. When people see the signs and get help, we can end school shootings.

11. Almost all mass school shooters shared  threatening or concerning messages or images. Over 75% raised concern from others  before the attacks. Bystanders saw warning signs in most documented active shooter cases.

12. Children living in poverty – urban and rural – are more likely to die due to gun violence than their more affluent peers.

13. About 1 out of 5 gay and lesbian youth have been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property.

14. Black youth are four times more likely to be killed with guns than their white peers.

15. The majority of individuals with diagnosed mental illness do not engage in violence against others.

16. 90% of teenagers killed in an act of dating violence were girls.

American School Shootings vis-à-vis the Rest of the World

CNN reports the United States has endured hundreds more school shootings than any other country in recent years.[4] They identify nineteen countries on the planet that suffered school shootings between 2009 and 2018. 

  • United States — 288
  • Mexico — 8
  • South Africa — 6
  • Nigeria & Pakistan — 4
  • Afghanistan — 3
  • Brazil, Canada, France — 2
  • Azerbaijan, China, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Kenya, Russia, & Turkey — 1

In the two decades following the Columbine shooting, the U.S. has experienced at least 12 mass school shootings and hundreds of smaller-scale attacks that have touched every state in the union, with over 278,000 students experiencing some form of gun violence.

School Shootings Around the World

“The notion that school shootings are a ‘uniquely American crisis’ is difficult to dispute given their alarming frequency in the U.S. compared to the rest of the industrialized world. That said, school shootings have also occurred in many other countries. While most school shootings are the work of one or two troubled individuals, some shootings (particularly in the Middle East and Africa) have been coordinated terror attacks. Also noteworthy is the fact that methods of reporting school shootings, especially shootings that do not result in any fatalities, differ from place to place.”[5]

It’s Worse Than You Think

There have been 40 school shootings this year that caused injuries or deaths, the most in a single year since Education Week began tracking such incidents in 2018. There have been 133 such shootings since 2018. Before 2022, the highest number of school shootings with injuries or deaths was last year when there were 35. There were 10 in 2020, and 24 each in 2019 and 2018. This year we have suffered 40 school shootings with injuries or deaths. 122 people died or were injured in a school shooting. 34 people were killed, including 28  students. 6 school employees or other adults were killed and 88 were injured.

Everytown Research & Policy

We know that political views differ on gun ownership and control. We also know that if assault weapons were not available in hundreds of thousands of American homes, garages, RVs, tents, trunks,  and campgrounds school shootings would decrease dramatically. The connection is elementary—without assault weapons there would be fewer school shootings. We would still have stabbings, but how many stabbers have invaded a school?

Everytown Research & Policy conducts independent, methodologically rigorous research, supports evidence-based policies, and communicates knowledge about school shootings to the public. Its August 29, 2022 Report is replicated here.

“For the last 20 years, students, educators, and parents have lived with the reality of increasingly frequent school shootings. The worst period for this violence has been in the 2021–2022 school year, which saw nearly quadruple the average number of gunfire incidents since 2013. From an average of 49 incidents in every school year since 2013, this past school year (2022) saw 193 incidents of gunfire on the grounds of preschools and K–12 schools. Meanwhile, America’s gun violence epidemic, in the form of mass shootings, gun homicides and suicides, and unintentional shootings, has been infecting America’s schools. The failure to address the root causes of school gun violence from all angles has lasting consequences for millions of American children.

We need meaningful actions to keep our schools and surrounding communities safe, actions that address what we know about gun violence in America’s schools. It’s time for our leaders to adopt a multifaceted approach that provides school communities with the tools they need to prevent school-based gun violence. This includes using the billions of dollars available in the recently passed Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to invest in proven solutions to keep schools safe from violence. This report focuses on approaches that have been proven most effective, such as keeping guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them in the first place, fostering safe and trusting school environments, crisis intervention programs, access and lock upgrades, and trauma-informed emergency planning. Without a doubt, schools need to take the necessary steps to be safe places for educators and students.

We can’t let risky ideas, like arming teachers, dominate the debate. An armed teacher cannot transform into a specially trained law enforcement officer in a moment of extreme duress and confusion. In reality, an untrained, armed teacher introduces risks to student safety daily.  Schools may choose to have security staff intervene in violent and dangerous situations, but those staff must have a limited role and be carefully selected and trained in order to limit undue harm to students, particularly students of color who have disproportionately suffered from over-policing.

In partnership with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA)—two of the largest education-related member organizations collectively representing millions of teachers, school staff, and administrators—Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund (Everytown) is working to ensure our approach to safer schools is driven by evidence, expertise, and care. Key recommendations of this report are:

  1. Enact and Enforce Secure Firearm Storage Laws
  2. Pass Extreme Risk Laws
  3. Raise the Age to Purchase Semi-automatic Firearms
  4. Require Background Checks on All Gun Sales
  5. Foster a Safe and Trusting School Climate
  6. Build a Culture of Secure Gun Storage
  7. Create Evidence-Based Crisis Assessment/Prevention Programs in Schools
  8. Implement Expert-Endorsed School Security Upgrades: Entry Control and Locks
  9. Initiate Trauma-Informed Emergency Planning
  10. Avoid Practices That Can Cause Harm and Traumatize Students

In this report, the nation’s largest education unions and its largest gun safety organization are joining to present a plan that combines school-based intervention strategies with carefully tailored gun safety policies.

Using data to present the full picture of what gun violence on school grounds looks like and drawing on research from school safety experts, Everytown, the AFT, and the NEA have crafted a comprehensive plan focusing on interventions to prevent mass shooting incidents and help end gun violence in America’s schools.

Everytown, the AFT, and the NEA want to provide policymakers and the public with an understanding of how gun violence impacts America’s schools. We analyze information that Everytown has collected on gun violence on school grounds in addition to research from other respected organizations. Through this data and analysis, we have learned the following: Those committing gun violence on school grounds, especially active shooters, often are connected to the school. Guns used in school-based violence generally come from the shooter’s home or the homes of family or friends. Shooters nearly always show warning signs of potential violence that concern people around them. Gun violence in America’s schools has a disproportionate impact on students of color.

The report provides a proactive plan to prevent active shooter incidents and, more broadly, address gun violence in all its forms in America’s schools. Using what we know about school gun violence, our organizations have put together a plan that focuses on intervening before violence occurs. These solutions work hand in hand to foster safe and nurturing schools, to address violence at its earliest stages, and to block easy access to firearms by those who would do harm.

The first part of this plan focuses on preventing shooters from getting their hands on guns by enacting sensible laws, including secure firearm storage laws and practices, to address the primary source of guns used in school gun violence (home); Extreme Risk laws, so that law enforcement and family members can act on warning signs of violence and temporarily prevent access to firearms; raising the age to buy semi-automatic firearms to 21; and requiring background checks on all gun sales so minors and people with dangerous histories can’t evade gun laws.

The second part of the plan focuses on expert-endorsed actions that schools can take. These solutions empower educators and law enforcement to intervene to address warning signs of violence, to provide the support that students in crisis need, and to keep shooters out of schools. These actions must be taken with due consideration for potential racial disparities and ensure that students of color or with disabilities are not negatively affected. They include fostering safe and trusting school environments that can prevent violent incidents, creating evidence-based crisis intervention programs in schools to identify and support students who may be in crisis, implementing evidence-based security upgrades to prevent shooters’ access to schools and classrooms, and initiating trauma-informed emergency planning protocols so that staff can secure schools and law enforcement can respond quickly.

Third, this report provides an overview of several practices that research shows are ineffective in preventing school gun violence or protecting the school community when shootings do occur while introducing new risks and causing harm to students and school communities. We share the desire to respond to unthinkable tragedy with strong solutions. But as this report details, arming teachers is an ineffective and risky approach that does not stop gun violence in our schools. A wealth of research demonstrates that allowing teachers to carry guns in schools increases the everyday risks to students. A second practice, frequent school shooter drills involving students, particularly those that simulate a real shooting, are having measurable impacts on the stress and anxiety levels of students, parents, and educators alike. Finally, the traditional model of law enforcement working in schools has not been shown to reduce school shootings or gun incidents, but the presence of law enforcement has played a heavy role in criminalizing students, particularly students of color, and can have a negative impact on learning outcomes for all students. Everytown, the AFT, and the NEA urge our leaders to instead adopt solutions proven to address what we know about school gun violence.”

The Difference Between Everytown, the AFT, the NEA, and the NRA

Shakespeare’s dilemma in King Lear gave us a metaphor for the battle between the NRA and almost everyone else on guns on campus. “A dilemma is a wolf in front of you and a precipice at your back.” Without the financial support of the gun industry, the gun lobby, i.e., the NRA has to sell more guns to avoid the precipice—bankruptcy—at its back.

“The National Rifle Association begins its annual convention in Houston on Friday, and leaders of the powerful gun-rights lobbying group are gearing up to ‘reflect on’ — and deflect any blame for — the deadly shooting earlier this week (May 26, 2022) of 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Former President Donald Trump and other leading Republicans are scheduled to address the three-day firearms industry marketing event, which is expected to draw protesters fed up with gun violence. . . While President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress have renewed calls for stricter gun laws, NRA board member Phil Journey said the focus should be on ‘better mental health care and trying to prevent gun violence.’ He said he wouldn’t support banning or limiting access to firearms. The NRA said in an online statement that meeting attendees will “reflect on” the Uvalde school shooting, “pray for the victims, recognize our patriotic members, and pledge to redouble our commitment to making our schools secure.

People planning to attend picked up registration badges Thursday and shopped for NRA souvenirs, such as T-shirts that say, “Suns Out Guns Out.” Police already had set up metal barriers across the street from the convention center, at a park where protesters are expected to gather Friday. In the 10 years since Sandy Hook, gun laws in the U.S. haven’t changed much. Texas has experienced a series of mass shootings in recent years. During that time, the Republican-led Legislature and governor have relaxed gun laws. There is precedent for the NRA to gather amid local mourning and controversy. The organization went ahead with a shortened version of its 1999 meeting in Denver roughly a week after the deadly shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. Actor Charlton Heston, the NRA president told attendees that “horrible acts” shouldn’t become opportunities to limit constitutional rights and he denounced critics for casting NRA members as ‘villains.’

Rocky Marshall, a former NRA board member, said that although the tragedy in Uvalde ‘does put the meeting in a bad light,’ that’s not a reason to cancel it. Marshall said gun-rights advocates and opponents can perhaps reduce gun violence if they focus on factors such as mental illness or school security. . . Throwing rocks at the NRA, that doesn’t solve the next mass shooting, ‘he said.’”[7]

Trump On Gun Violence, School Shootings, and the NRA

“Former President Donald Trump on Friday addressed the National Rifle Association’s annual conference in Houston, slamming Democrats for their positions on gun control and pointing to mental health as the root cause of mass shootings just three days after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school. At the outset of his nearly hourlong address to a supportive crowd, Trump took a shot at the speakers who decided not to attend the convention in the wake of Tuesday’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

‘Unlike some, I didn’t disappoint you by not showing up,’ Trump told NRA members, who cheered the remark. Trump spoke at the event alongside several other high-profile Republicans, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem — whose remarks the former president applauded respectively — despite widespread criticism of the event after an 18-year-old gunman opened fire on teachers and pupils with an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle, devastating the community just under 300 miles away from the convention.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had been slated to speak in person but opted instead to address the conference virtually Friday with prerecorded remarks as he held a press conference in Uvalde at the same time. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was scheduled to speak at the convention but canceled his appearance ‘after prayerful consideration and discussion with NRA officials.’ Texas lawmakers Rep. Dan Crenshaw and Sen. John Cornyn also both pulled out of the event, citing scheduling conflicts. In the days following the shooting, President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress have reignited calls for tightening gun laws, while many Republicans have doubled down on their opposition to gun reform — instead, pointing to mental health and school security as the root cause of mass shootings.

That narrative was in full play at the NRA event, with Trump echoing other speakers by blasting any attempt from Democrats to curb access to guns. ‘Every time a disturbed or demented person commits such a hideous crime, there’s always a grotesque effort by some in our society to use the suffering of others to advance their own extreme political agenda,” Trump said. ‘Clearly, we need to make it far easier to confine the violent and mentally deranged into mental institutions,” he said. The former president invoked Second Amendment rights several times and stated that ‘evil’ is the reason to arm citizens. He stressed the importance of added school security measures such as metal detectors and arming teachers and said teachers have to be ‘able to handle’ an active shooter situation. Congress should vote immediately to take back every penny of unused Covid relief money,’ he said. ‘Take it back from the states and use that money to quickly establish impenetrable security at every school all across our land.’ Trump’s remarks later devolved into a stump speech, as he pledged a more militaristic policing approach if he’s president again by ‘cracking down on violent crime like never before.’”[8]

Everything But Guns

On May 29, 2022, Politico reported the optics and reality of the 2022 NRA Convention. “The nation has been plunged into despair and mourning. A little more than a week after the slaughter of 10 people by a white supremacist in Buffalo, a gunman killed 19 children and 2 adults in Uvalde, Texas, as police stood by in what seems a glacial and incompetent response. The tragedies renewed calls for gun control. In a national address, President Joe Biden called for a coordinated response to take on the gun lobby. Democratic legislatures have moved to pass gun control legislation at the state level.

And in Houston, the National Rifle Association still threw a party. Despite the tragedies, the NRA’s annual national convention went ahead this weekend. It was, as my colleague Inae Oh wrote, déjà-vu. After the Columbine shooting in 1999, the NRA decided to still hold its convention in Colorado.

Two messages emerged from the assembled throngs and the doting politicians in attendance, just 300 miles from Uvalde: (1) People must continue to enjoy the right to acquire any damn firearm they choose, without meddling from the state; and (2) the massacre had absolutely nothing—not a thing—to do with the untrammeled commerce in guns. And may in fact have been a staged conspiracy meant to trigger a crackdown on this inalienable (and yet recently invented) right.

A couple of NRA-worshipping politicians (Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. John Cornyn) found the prospect of whipping up fervor for gun acquisition just three days after bullets killed 19 children and two teachers much, and backed out of scheduled appearances. Former president Donald Trump would not be so deterred. In a rambling hour-long performance that “devolved into a stump speech,” Politico reported, the former president took a poke at his peers who had proven too delicate to appear under the circumstances. “Unlike some, I didn’t disappoint you by not showing up,” Trump told the cheering crowd.

He analyzed the Uvalde shooter’s act as one of “evil”—and cite it as a reason for Americans to buy and carry more arms. He conjured a future of schools as war zones, teeming with gun-packing teachers (who should be “able to handle” active shooters) and armed-to-the-teeth cops. “Congress should vote immediately to take back every penny of unused Covid relief money … take it back from the states and use that money to quickly establish impenetrable security at every school all across our land,” he declared. And he vowed—suggesting a restoration of his presidency in 2024— to “crackdown on violent crime like never before.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz—a staunch Trump ally but a potential rival in 2024—denounced the “elites who dominate our culture, [who] tell us that firearms lie at the root of the problem,” The Washington Post reported. The “real goal” of many politicians on the left “is disarming America.” He added: “It’s far easier to slander one’s political adversaries and to demand that responsible citizens forfeit their constitutional rights than it is to examine the cultural sickness, giving birth to unspeakable acts of evil.” In short, guns don’t kill people; something called “evil” kills people. And the only antidote to it is more guns.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem—also a Trump acolyte and possible rival to the GOP throne—delivered perhaps the most unhinged rant. She insisted that the “woke mob” is using the Uvalde atrocity as an excuse to end gun rights. Bizarrely, she suggested that the US founders might have been moved to construct the Second Amendment as a response to the French Revolution, according to an account in Newsweek. “In Paris, which was the center of European learning and culture for a thousand years, mobs tore down statues and crosses,” the governor recounted. “Does that sound familiar?”

In her tortured logic, the French monarchy had fallen to a “woke mob,” and could have maintained power … if only more citizens had been packing guns, which presumably they would have used to shoot the revolutionaries. She continued:

We have seen the same type of radical mob mentality taking place on the streets of American cities that swept Paris in the 1790s. Woke mobs are tearing down statues, and it doesn’t matter who they are. Our founding fathers, were Catholic missionaries. They even wanted to come after Mt. Rushmore. Well, not on my watch.

Not surprisingly, the conference’s attendees proffered dark conspiracies about the Uvalde shootings. One man found the timing suspiciously convenient, Politico reports:

“Why did it happen three days ago?” asked Jim Hollis, a lifetime NRA benefactor from St. Louis. “I’m not sure that there are not forces someplace that somehow find troubled people and nurture and develop them and push them for their own agendas.”

Thus, rather than spark a national reckoning on the recent explosion in gun sales, including the assault rifles preferred by mass shooters, the carnage of children in Uvalde instantly became enmeshed in the forever culture war. And the gun nuts who assembled in Houston are winning. Despite their shrieks of grievance, Congress shows no sign of acting to regulate gun access. And the gun-loving Republican Party looks set to clean up in the November midterm elections.

[1] https://www.edweek.org/leadership/school-shootings-this-year-how-many-and-where/2022/01

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/alisondurkee/2022/07/20/record-28-million-ar-15-and-ak-style-rifles-entered-us

[3] https://www.sandyhookpromise.org/blog/gun-violence/16-facts-about-gun-violence-and-school-shootings/

[4] https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/school-shootings-by-country

[5] Ibid.

[6] https://everytownresearch.org/

[7] https://www.npr.org/2022/05/26/1101616818/nra-convention-uvalde-school-shooting

[8] https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/27/trump-gun-rights-nra-speech-uvalde-shooting-00035836

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *