How Many School Shootings in America? What Can Be Done?

In researching how many school shootings happen in America, it is imperative to consider the most recent and comprehensive statistics available. The following data comes from the U.S. Department of Education and the National Center for Education Statistics.

School shootings in the U.S have been meticulously documented, painting a clear picture of gun violence in schools. Below are key numbers that offer insight into how many school shootings have occurred, where they’ve occurred, and the outcomes2:

  • Since Columbine, a significant marker in national history, there have been 394 public school shootings3
  • The 2021-22 academic year marked a concerning high, with 327 documented school shootings at both public and private elementary and secondary schools. This includes incidents with and without casualties.
  • From 2000 to 2021, there were 46 active shooter incidents in elementary and secondary schools and 18 in postsecondary institutions. These numbers contribute to the broader understanding of how many school shootings occur in various educational environments.
  • From 2000 to 2021, there were 276 casualties in active shooter incidents at elementary and secondary schools and 157 casualties at postsecondary institutions.
  • The year 2018 witnessed the deadliest year at the elementary and secondary school levels, with 81 casualties.
  • The 2023 school year marked the 2nd highest number of school shooting incidents, though the number of injuries and casualties decreased. 

These statistics, while offering a quantitative understanding of how many school shootings since Columbine, also highlight the need for continued attention and action to address this grave issue affecting America’s educational landscape.

Defining and Understanding School Shootings

Conversations around school safety have become linked with the prevalence of school shootings, a term that, despite its frequent usage, lacks a universally accepted definition

The lack of consensus on what defines a ‘school shooting’ not only complicates the understanding of such incidents, but also affects the way they are recorded and reported. The complexity of defining a school shooting is because of the varying scenarios under which these tragic events occur. Many shootings extend beyond classroom walls to include school-sponsored events and sporting activities.

Statistics from the FBI indicate that there were 42 “active shooter” incidents from 2000-2018 at schools that serve children in Pre-K through 12th grade. 

However, this definition is focused on an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill in a populated area of the school, but does not encompass all instances of gun violence on school property. 

For example, an ABC News analysis of 2019 revealed more than two dozen school shootings, many of which did not meet the FBI’s criteria but nonetheless had significant impacts on their communities.1

The National Center for Education Statistics, our primary data source, offers a broader understanding of these incidents. However, the inconsistency in defining a school shooting means that different sources will report different numbers. 

This ambiguity raises several questions6:

  • Should a shooting at a school-sponsored sporting event be classified in the same category as one occurring within a school building? 
  • How do we categorize incidents that happen on school buses or during off-campus school events?
  • How should incidents involving firearms on school property outside of school hours, such as late-night violence in school parking lots, be classified in the context of school shootings?

Our estimation of how many school shootings occur annually is influenced by these nuances. 

According to the CDC, the term “school-associated violent deaths” includes a range of violent deaths occurring during school activities. In the 2015-2016 school year alone, there were 18 such deaths. 

In analyzing these incidents, it becomes clear that each event, whether it occurs during school hours, at an after-school event, or in relation to a school activity, profoundly affects the fabric of the school community.

Behind every statistic are individuals and families impacted by these tragedies, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive approach to enhancing school safety and addressing the epidemic of gun violence in educational settings.

Analyzing Trends in School Shootings Over the Years

The historical landscape of school shootings in the United States presents a complex and troubling picture. To understand the evolving nature of this issue, it is essential to do a trend analysis using various data sources, including K-12 school shootings, locations of these incidents, and the number of victims killed.

  1. Rise in Incidents and Fatalities: Over the years, there has been a noticeable increase in both the numbers of incidents and the fatalities associated with K-12 school shootings. Data indicates a worrying trendline, with notable spikes since 2015. This rise is not just in the number of occurrences but also in the severity, as seen in the increasing number of people killed during these events. It’s important to note that the decreases in 2020 and 2021 can be attributed to the pandemic and virtual learning. 
  2. Historical Context: The first recorded school shooting in the U.S. dates back to 1764. However, the nature of these early incidents have evolved drastically. Early school shootings were sporadic and often stemmed from personal grievances or internal conflicts. In contrast,recent school shootings are occurring with higher frequency and deadliness, pointing to a shift in motive and underlying societal factors.
  3. Underlying Causes: Various factors contribute to the occurrence of school shootings. These include a combination of access to firearms (80% of individuals who commit a school shooting obtain the weapon by stealing it from a family member), mental health problems, and societal influences.This data highlights the need for a multifaceted approach to preventing these tragedies.
  4. Demographic and Psychological Factors: Most school shooters are male and often have a history of psychological issues or social rejection. It’s estimated that at least 92% of school shooters were found to be suicidal before or during the shooting. This statistic can help develop effective prevention strategies.
  5. Prevention and Response: The increase in school shootings has led to enhanced security measures in schools and a focus on mental health. However, these measures alone have not been sufficient enough to  prevent school shootings, indicating the need for an approaches that address the root causes of this violence.

School Shootings: A Global Perspective

Analyzing school shootings within a global context reveals stark contrasts between the United States and other nations. 

The U.S. takes the lead in the number of these tragic events. From 2009 to 2018, the United States recorded an alarming 288 school shootings, a figure that dramatically exceeds those reported in other countries5

In contrast, nations like Mexico and South Africa, which come in right behind the U.S. for the number of school shootings, registered only 8 and 6 shootings respectively during the same time period.

The complete global record of school shootings between 2009-2018 are7:

  • United States: 288 incidents
  • Mexico: 8 incidents
  • South Africa: 6 incidents
  • Pakistan: 4 incidents
  • Nigeria: 4 incidents
  • Afghanistan: 3 incidents
  • Brazil: 2 incidents
  • France: 2 incidents
  • Canada: 2 incidents
  • China: 1 incident
  • Russia: 1 incident
  • Turkey: 1 incident
  • Germany: 1 incident

This disparity is not just in numbers; it also extends to frequency and severity. While other countries occasionally experience school shootings that are often linked to broader issues such as terrorism or civil unrest, the U.S. faces them with  troubling regularity. 

For instance, Education Week data shows a narrower time frame of school shootings in the U.S., yet the number is still significantly higher than our global counterparts, with 37 incidents in 2023 alone.

The reasons behind such high numbers in the U.S. are multidimensional, involving cultural, legal, political, and societal factors. Access to firearms, attitudes towards gun ownership, and mental health considerations play significant roles in this American crisis. In contrast, countries with stricter gun control laws and different cultural perceptions regarding firearms experience these events far less frequently.

These numbers emphasize a critical point: school shootings are not just an American problem but a distinctly American crisis in both scale and nature. 

While episodes of school violence are universal, the deadly frequency of school shootings remains a phenomenon that is unique to the U.S. An urgent response is needed to address this growing crisis.

The Impact of School Shootings on Communities and Students

The psychological, social, and economic impacts of school shootings ripple through communities, leaving deep and often irreparable scars. 

The haunting question of “what if” permeates the thoughts of survivors, parents, and school administrators, echoing the profound effects of such tragedies.

From a psychological standpoint, the trauma experienced by students and teachers in the aftermath is intense. Survivors often grapple with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. 

The relentless query, “What if it had been me?” torments students who narrowly escaped harm, while “What if I did something different?” plagues those who witnessed such horrors. 

For parents, the pain is twofold: the relief that their child survived mingles with the devastating scenarios that could have unfolded. Despair and emotional turmoil hits the victims’ bereaved families the hardest.

Behind the question “how many kids have died in school shootings” are tragic and incredibly personal stories of loss and grief. 

The social fabric of the community is also deeply affected. Trust in institutions, particularly schools, is eroded, as parents and communities question the safety and well-being of their children in supposed safe spaces. 

The specter of people killed or injured in such incidents becomes a powerful catalyst for social action and policy changes, often igniting debates on gun control, mental health support, and school safety measures.

Economically, the cost is staggering – not just in immediate terms such as medical and funeral expenses, but also in long-term counseling and security upgrades. The broader economic impact includes lost productivity as communities reel from these events.

School shootings, therefore, are not isolated incidents but catalysts for change in our society. They compel us to confront difficult questions about safety, mental health, and the societal structures that either mitigate or exacerbate such tragedies. 

The haunting “what ifs” are a reminder of the collective responsibility to prevent such events and support those impacted by them.

Prevention Strategies for School Shootings

In the wake of increasing incidents of school shootings, a holistic approach to prevention is critical. 

Among various measures, one notable innovation stands out for its efficacy and subtlety: bullet resistant laminate. This technology is recognized for its ability to “break the attack cycle,” offering a unique advantage over other security measures.

  • Bullet Resistant Laminate: Unlike other security measures, bullet resistant laminate offers passive, yet powerful, protection. It can be installed in windows and doors across the school campus, acting as an invisible shield. This technology disrupts the shooter’s plans by providing an unexpected physical barrier, buying time for students and teachers until authorities can intervene. It’s a powerful defense mechanism that doesn’t rely on active intervention.
  • Security Cameras: While useful for post-event analysis and identification of perpetrators, security cameras lack real-time protection..
  • Presence of Security Personnel: Security guards provide a sense of safety and can act quickly in emergencies. However, they are limited by their physical presence; they can only be in one place at a time. In contrast, bullet resistant laminate works continuously and silently across the entire campus.
  • Data and Analysis Tools: The use of tools like the K-12 school shooting database aids in understanding trends and patterns in school shootings, informing better preparedness and response strategies.

While a combination of security measures is essential, the implementation of bullet resistant laminate stands out for its ability to provide unobtrusive and comprehensive protection. It addresses the critical need for \immediate and on-site defense that other measures like security cameras and armed guards cannot provide. 

Bullet resistant laminate is a significant advancement in our approach to safeguarding schools and their inhabitants from the threat of gun violence.

How Communities and Individuals Can Help Prevent School Shootings

Protecting our schools is a collective responsibility, involving not just the authorities and school staff but also parents and communities. 

An integral part of this effort lies in proactive measures, such as investing in technologies like bullet resistant glass laminate, which serves not only as a physical barrier from gunfire but also as a symbol of a community’s commitment to safety.

  • Community Involvement in Security Upgrades: Investing in bullet-resistant glass laminate is a step that demonstrates a community’s proactivity and commitment. It’s more than just enhancing security; it’s about making a statement that student safety is a top priority. Clear-Armor strengthens glass, and by extension strengthens the community’s resolve against violence.
  • Training and Preparedness: Providing training to students, teachers, and community members is crucial. This includes educating them about safety protocols, how to respond in an emergency, and the importance of such investments as bullet-resistant laminate in safeguarding their environment.
  • Encouraging Vigilance and Reporting: Communities can cultivate a culture of vigilance, where members are encouraged to report suspicious activities or behaviors. This can prevent getting caught in the regretful loop of “what if” scenarios by taking action that could prevent a tragedy.
  • Building Strong Support Systems: Fostering strong relationships within the community, where mental health issues can be openly discussed and addressed, is vital. This involves creating an environment where students feel comfortable seeking help and sharing their struggles.

It involves investing in and advocating for better security measures like bullet resistant glass laminate, participating in training, staying vigilant, and fostering a supportive environment. 

Such collective actions not only ensures safety but also strengthens the community’s morale and emphasizes a unified stance against school violence.


  1. Carrega, Christina. “School shootings are more common than you may think: A look at the incidents that went under the radar in 2019.” ABC News, 13 December 2019, Accessed 1 February 2024.
  2. “COE – Violent Deaths at School and Away From School, School Shootings, and Active Shooter Incidents.” National Center for Education Statistics Accessed 1 February 2024. 
  3. Cox, John Woodrow, et al. “There have been 394 school shootings since Columbine.” Washington Post, 20 April 2018, Accessed 1 February 2024.
  4. “Five Facts About Mass Shootings in K-12 Schools.” Office of Justice Programs, Accessed 16 February 2024.
  5. Grabow, Chip, and Lisa Rose. “The US has had 57 times as many school shootings as the other major industrialized nations combined.” CNN, 21 May 2018, Accessed 1 February 2024.
  6. Lu, Denise. “An Overlooked Danger: School Shootings After Hours.” The New York Times, 6 January 2020, Accessed 1 February 2024.
  7. “School Shootings by Country 2024.” World Population Review, Accessed 1 February 2024.
  8. “Study: Two-Thirds of Mass Shootings Linked to Domestic Violence.” The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, Accessed 16 February 2024.

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