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School Shootings by State 2022

School shootings are a distinctly American phenomenon. According to homeland security expert William Pelfrey Jr.as reported by VCU news, "Eighty or 90 percent of all the school shootings in the world happen in the U.S."

While not a new phenomenon -- one of the first reported school shootings occurred during the 1840s when a student shot and killed his professor John Anthony Gardner Davis, the frequency and severity of school shootings have undoubtedly been rising.

Prevalence of School Shootings

The United States has recorded 2,067 school shootings since 1970. Nearly a fifth of these incidents occurred between 2020 and 2022 when school shootings were at their twenty-year peak.

In 2020, there were 96 school shootings recorded; in 2021, that number ballooned to 202.

In the first half of 2022 alone, there have been 95 reports of gunfire on school grounds, in which 40 people were killed and 76 injured. More than half of these deaths occurred in a single attack on Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where 21 individuals, including 19 children and two teachers, were killed.

The most deadly school shootings to date were the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, where 33 university students and faculty members were killed, and the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, which resulted in the deaths of 27 elementary school students and staff.

Factors Contributing to School Shootings

According to the Center for Disease Control, guns are now the leading cause of death among children and adolescence in the United States, with intentional homicide being the second-most common killer of teens aged 15-19. However, school shooting victims make up only a tiny fraction of these deaths.

Research suggests the primary factor contributing to the frequency of school shootings in the United States is the prevalence and availability of guns. While several other factors contribute to one becoming a school shooter, the ability to obtain a weapon is more common here than anywhere else.

The United States has the highest gun ownership rate in the world, with 390 million guns owned by its 334 million residents. Barriers to gun ownership are also among the lowest in the world, with most states allowing individuals to purchase a firearm for any purpose and without question. In contrast, several countries require extensive licensing, proof of necessity, mental health checks, background checks, and other measures before allowing a citizen to own a firearm.

Responses to School Shootings

Schools have been scrambling to respond to the increase in school shootings. Measures include a hodgepodge of increased security, active shooter training for teachers and staff, lockdown procedures, increased mental health resources, and other interventions. Some schools have taken to arming their teachers to respond in an active shooter situation.

Critics worry that these approaches treat the symptoms instead of the problem and have put out calls for more gun control measures. However, the debate around this issue is contentious. There are concerns that such controls may infringe on the second amendment right to bear arms. In June of 2022, the Supreme Court passed a decision opposing a New York law restricting the ability to carry a concealed weapon in public, suggesting that increased gun safety measures are unlikely in the near future.

Police departments are also reviewing their own procedures for responding to active shooter scenarios. Departments have come under scrutiny for their responses in several school shootings. In the most recent mass-casualty shooting in Uvalde, Texas, police have been criticized for failing to breach the classroom where most of the deaths occurred, despite having several officers on the premises.

School shootings by State

Every state has had a school shooting. A state's frequency of school shootings largely depends on its population size. For example, the three largest states in the country also top the list for school shootings.

The K-12 School Shooting Database shows that California, at 215, has had the highest number of school shootings since 1970. Texas is second with 177 reported shootings, and Florida is third with 120. Conversely, Wyoming is both the least populous state and the state with the fewest school shootings.

There are a few notable exceptions to this trend. For example, New York is the fourth-most populous state but ranks eighth in school shootings, suggesting they have a lower rate of incidents than most states. On the other hand, Louisiana ranks fourteenth for school shootings, despite being the 25th largest state. When looking at shootings per capita, Lousiana ranks second. Washington D.C. has the highest incidence of school shootings per capita.

The ten states with the highest number of school shootings are:

  1. California (215)
  2. Texas (177)
  3. Florida (120)
  4. Illinois (113)
  5. Pennsylvania (88)
  6. Michigan (87)
  7. Ohio (86)
  8. New York (76)
  9. Georgia (72)
  10. North Carolina (69)

Here are the 10 states with the most school shootings:

  1. California - 164
  2. Texas - 135
  3. Florida - 90
  4. Michigan - 70
  5. Illinois - 65
  6. Ohio - 55
  7. Pennsylvania - 54
  8. New York - 49
  9. Maryland - 47
  10. Georgia - 46

School Shootings by State 2022

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School Shootings by State 2022

* Based on publicly available data on incidents from 1970-present.

School Shootings by State 2022

Sources