On February 6, 2018 we counted 12 acts of gun violence on school property in the United States in the month of January alone. Less than two weeks later, The PediaBlog was trying its best to come to grips with the gun massacre that killed 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Justine McDaniel has been keeping a tally of school shootings in 2018 and as we near year’s end, the results are disturbing:
The past year has seen 93 gun-related incidents in K-12 schools across the United States, the highest number since recording began in 1970 and more than double the number of shootings in 2017.
A shooting in Richmond, Indiana last week left one student dead and raised the total of firearm events at American schools to 94. That’s about one gun-related incident every other school day. The previous record was 59 school shootings in 2006:
A running tally kept by Education Week counted 113 people killed or injured in school shootings in 2018, with 23 shootings leading to injuries or deaths. The latest in the report was a Nov. 20 incident in Virginia in which one parent was wounded after a gun in another parent’s pocket accidentally discharged.
McDaniel drills down on the dreadful statistics that have no precedence anywhere in the developed world:
Since 1970, the three most-populous states have seen the highest number of gun-related incidents in schools — California, 157; Texas, 131; and Florida, 87 — according to the data. Pennsylvania has had 51 recorded incidents, and New Jersey, 9.
In total, there have been 1,300 school shooting incidents since 1970, according to the center. In the vast majority, the shooter was a male high school student acting alone. In most, the perpetrator targeted specific victims.
The top reasons for shootings were disputes, gang-related, or accidental. Just over 9 percent were suicides or attempted suicides, and 2 percent murder-suicides. Only four shootings were in self-defense.
Gun violence continued to rise in the U.S. last year, says Jacqueline Howard, where gun deaths hit a record high:
Nearly 40,000 people in the United States died by guns last year, marking the highest number of gun deaths in decades, according to a new analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WONDER database.
A similar analysis was first conducted by the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, a non-profit gun policy advocacy group.
CNN replicated that analysis and found that 39,773 people died by guns in 2017, which is an increase of more than 10,000 deaths from the 28,874 in 1999. The age-adjusted rate of firearm deaths per 100,000 people rose from 10.3 per 100,000 in 1999 to 12 per 100,000 in 2017.
Gun-related suicides contributed to the increase in 2017:
CNN’s analysis also showed that 23,854 people died from suicide by guns in 2017, the highest number in 18 years. That’s a difference of more than 7,000 deaths compared with 16,599 suicide deaths by guns in 1999.
There have been well over 300 mass shootings — single incidents where four or more people, not including the shooter, are injured or killed — in the U.S. so far in 2018. Melia Robinson says that’s almost one per day:
Americans are more likely to die from gun violence than many leading causes of death combined, with some 11,000 people in the US killed in firearm assaults each year.
What should we do about keeping young lives — all lives — from being shattered by gun violence? After the Parkland shooting last February, we grieved and thought we knew the answer:
We know what needs to happen to begin picking up the pieces of the shattered belief in our nation’s goodness (and the belief in the goodness of her citizens) — the enforcement/reinforcement of existing gun laws with new ones AND a ban on military-style semi-automatic rifles, “bump stocks” and other assorted lethal paraphernalia and ammunition AND mandatory universal background checks, registration, and training AND the building and maintaining of a mental health care system that provides access, treatment, and followup for any person who needs it AND a sober assessment of our gun-loving, violent society AND stronger safety education AND more (much more) research and communication between doctors and their patients about the risks of guns in the home. Metal detectors at the schoolhouse door might not be such a bad idea, either. But the key is this: Not one or some, but ALL of these things need to happen, all at the same time.
Gun violence is a pediatric health issue within a national public health crisis. We’ve covered the topic extensively on The PediaBlog here.