New Research on School Shootings Reveals Important Patterns

Gun control legislation and school shooting prevention concept with a gun on a notebook surrounded by school supplies and the text "Enough"

A new database released by CNN this month shows the commonalities in school shootings across America for the past decade.

CNN reviewed and analyzed shootings at K-12 schools from 2009 to 2018. Because of the lack of federal data on school shootings, the news organization relied on open-source research, news reports, police records, school websites, and data from Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems.

Over the past 10 years, 114 people were killed and 242 were injured in shootings at K-12 schools, according to the report. Nearly 200,000 students attended schools where gun violence took place.

Although analysts found that most mass shootings happen in White suburban schools, gun violence disproportionately affects urban schools and people of color. Black students account for a third of the pupils who experience a school shooting, even though they make up only 15 percent of the of the more than 50 million students in the United States, according to the dataset.

Black students are also more likely to experience a shooting on school grounds after 4:00 PM and during after-school events, CNN says. By contrast, gun violence at predominantly White schools typically occurs while classes are in session. Shootings at these schools also tend to be more lethal, with an average of three victims per incident.

The average victim count for school shootings overall is two, according to the report. It also states that the most common day of the week for these incidents to occur is Friday, primarily in the afternoon.

To conduct a clear methodology for data collection, CNN defined a school shooting as gunfire resulting in at least one person killed or injured, not including the shooter, anywhere on school grounds. The dataset includes injuries sustained from BB guns and excludes instances where the sole shooter is law enforcement or security.

Experts interviewed by CNN say day-to-day violence is a more immediate problem for students than relatively rare mass shootings. They also say that preventing school violence requires collecting more comprehensive data. Mark Rosenberg, who formerly oversaw gun violence research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN that without better research on the matter, U.S. schools are headed for a “deadly future.”

The school shooting database will be updated with 2019 numbers when they become available, according to CNN.