School Shooting Crisis

By: Mallory Johnson

Staff Writer

According to school violence statistics, school shooting incidents have increased dramatically. School shootings are apart of a small percentage of youth violence, but they are traumatic events for students, communities, and the nation. Beginning in the 1970s, school shootings have increased and have affected communities across the nation.

Schools are sometimes just the place where violence happens, such as drug or gang related attacks, but in some cases they are the place chosen for an attack. Attackers may target a particular person, a particular group, or the school itself. The U.S. Secret Service did a study on incidents of targeted school shootings, and, as of 2000, found 37 such incidents, beginning in 1974, with the number of incidents increasing each decade.

In their study of school shootings, the Secret Service found that most school shootings occur during the school day, with some happening before or after. All of the attackers were males and used guns; some used more than one. Most attacks were done alone, with a few involving more than one shooter or another person helping in the planning of the school shooting.

The study also found that such attacks are almost always planned. The attackers usually did not threaten their victims beforehand, but other students knew that the attacker was planning something. In over half of the cases, a peer influenced or encouraged the shooter in their plans. Also, in most cases, adults noticed behavior prior to the attack that worried them.

There is no single profile that describes the attackers. They come from a variety of ethnic groups, family situations, social groups at school, and the levels of academic achievement. Many were part of the mainstream social group and had excellent grades. Most had never been in trouble at school or with the law or acted violently. A small percentage had previously been diagnosed with mental health problems.

A Congressional Research Service report published in 2013 counted 78 incidents over roughly the same period, in which 547 people were killed. A report published by the FBI last year, studying active shooting situations between 2000 and 2013, found that these kinds of incidents were happening more and more recently. The first seven years of the study found an average of 6.4 active shootings per year, while the last seven years of the study found that number jumped up to 16.4 incidents per year.

With the number of mass shootings, there should be stricter gun control. Gallup says, ā€œLess than half of Americans, 47%, say they favor stricter laws covering the sale of firearms, similar to views found last year. But this percentage is significantly below the 58% recorded in 2012 after the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, spurred a nationwide debate about the possibility of more stringent gun control laws. Thirty-eight percent of Americans say these laws should be kept as they are now, and 14% say they should be made less strict.ā€

From a 2013 Pew report that while Americans strongly support the right to bear arms, they also support specific restrictions, such as a background checks, assault weapons bans and a federal database to track guns. With stricter gun control laws, that could lead to less mass shootings.

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