If you have been keeping up with the news aggregate catch-all site 'Google News' lately, you will notice an uptick in what's "becoming the norm" as President Obama recently put it: school shootings. I know I've noticed it. And it got me wondering just how many school shootings have taken place lately? Feels more and more like an everyday, or at least every week occurrence lately. Are the numbers really going up exponentially? Or is the news just getting more apt at headlining the happenings?
I did a Google search for "list of school shootings in the U.S.". First site to pop up was the wiki account of all the documented school shootings in the United States that has made it to their website so far.
List of school shootings in the United States - 21st Century
By the numbers since 1990, it breaks down like this:
1990 - 1
1991 - 3
1992 - 2
1993 - 3
1994 - 3
1995 - 4
1996 - 4
1997 - 5
1998 - 6
1999 - 5
2000 - 4
2001 - 4
2002 - 3
2003 - 3
2004 - 4
2005 - 3
2006 - 7
2007 - 4
2008 - 9
2009 - 7
2010 - 8
2011 - 10
2012 - 14
2013 - 31
2014 - 31 (We are less than halfway through the year)
Two things to note with this first piece of data for consideration. One, Wikipedia's definition of what qualifies as a "school shooting":
This is a chronological list of school shootings in the United States. It consists of incidents in which a firearm was discharged at a school infrastructure, including incidents of shootings on a school bus. This list contains shooting incidents that occurred on the campuses of K-12 public schools and private schools, as well as colleges and universities. This list also contains incidents of where a person intentionally shot him or herself in a suicide or suicide attempt. The incidents below are classified as "school shootings"
And two, this is Wikipedia data. This is NOT official data, just user uploaded, user driven, and user compiled information. But, from what I gather and given that every accounted report here is sourced to an official story, these are all legitimate school shootings. More of note is that news reporting on this subject has likely been on the rise ever since the Columbine School Shooting Massacre that took place on April 20th, 1999 in Colorado. So, it's fair to assume that the evidence of exponential growth is perhaps slightly skewed given this fact. Even still, teachers and students dying in horrific fashion by way of a fire arm in a school setting is always news, especially to the town involved. And wiki compiled this list by more than just individual, random accounting.
Even still, lets look at some more official data. School Shootings in America Since Sandy Hook
This is an analysis done by an organization called 'Everytown for Gun Safety'. They describe themselves on their WHO WE ARE
tab of their website as: A movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities.
What their data comes to is a conclusion that 74 school shootings have taken place since Sandy Hook. That terrible elementary school shooting took place on December 14th, 2012. That was a mere 1 and a 1/2 years ago today, almost to the tee. In the last 18 months or so, Everytown was able to find 74 stories of documented school shootings. To consider that number another way, that comes to about 4 school shootings a month since. Or even more chilling and to the point, once a week. Comparing the number 74 to that of what Wikipedia has documented since Sandy Hook (62), and I'd say that both numbers are close to the truth, and probably both are lower than the actual true number.
To better understand this data, Everytown for Gun Safety defines school shootings below, along with how they came about compiling their list. This paragraph can be found at the very bottom of this article
Data: incidents were classified as school shootings when a firearm was discharged inside a school building or on school or campus grounds, as documented in publicly reported news accounts. This includes assaults, homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings. Incidents in which guns were brought into schools but not fired there, or were fired off school grounds after having been possessed in schools, were not included. This list includes incidents meeting the above criteria that were brought to our attention after our School Shootings Analysis was issued on February 10, 2014. Incidents were identified through media reports, so this is likely an undercount of the true total.
What to do?
So, the once a week average is a number that honestly might be under-accounting the reality of the situation after all. Multiple news sites are reporting on this 74 number as I write this, with their own slightly unique interpretation or further delving into the data on gun violence in a school setting since Sandy Hook. Some are actually considering data that reaches further back in an attempt to show that school shootings are in fact on the rise in this country in a very real and very scary way. I recommend doing a few Google inquiries on the topic.
Two such points of reference:
A closer look: How many school shootings since Newtown?
Epidemic: 74 school shootings since Sandy Hook massacre
The point of this entry is not to point fingers. I'm not trying to start a commentary on the motives of any given shooter, or what individual influence in our country is driving people to gun violence. Those conversations and allegations have been going on for years, and casting one more ballot of opinion into that inferno of conversation (that ultimately seems to do nothing but spin its wheels and aggravate everyone involved) does little good in my mind. Instead, I think we should focus on the numbers and the reality of the situation. For the reality is that school shootings are becoming a more common occurrence all across the country. Beyond that, I don't know what to do about it exactly. I wish I did. Hopefully someone out there does. And more importantly, someone DOES SOMETHING about it. Maybe that someone is you. All I can think to do is point to these numbers and sigh.