More than 6 Guns Per Day Were Seized at U.S. Schools Last Year

Although last year’s increase in reports of guns on K-12 campuses is alarming, the number is probably a significant underestimate.

More than 6 Guns Per Day Were Seized at U.S. Schools Last Year

(Photo: Pixel-Shot, Adobe Stock)

More than 1,150 guns were seized on K-12 campuses in the 2022-2023 school year, according to a new Washington Post investigation. That translates to more than six guns seized at schools per day last year. And those were the guns that were taken by law enforcement or school administrators before ever being fired.

The same study found that 51 of the country’s largest school districts reported a sharp increase in the number of firearms recovered on campus. Additionally, from the 2018-2019 school year to the 2022-2023 school year, the 47 districts that could provide the Washington Post with full data experienced a 79% increase in gun seizures. In some communities, the number of firearms found more than doubled.

Although last year’s increase in reports of guns on campus is alarming, the 1,150 figure is probably a significant underestimate since some districts don’t track gun seizures. Additionally, 58% of last year’s incidents were not covered by the media.

Of the incidents that were reported on by the media, most of the students who were found to have guns on them were high schoolers. However, 31 of the students who carried firearms to school were age 10 or younger.

The locations where the firearms were located on campus ran the gamut: backpacks, lockers, garbage cans, bathrooms, cars, diaper bags, pockets, purses, waistbands, in the ceilings above restrooms and more. The motivations for bringing a gun to school also varied: some were brought by accident, others were brought to school to show off, while many others were brought to kill someone.

The Washington Post study also found that school resource officers (SROs) often play a vital role in finding out who has a gun and then recovering it. The study also found that SROs often gain the trust of students and staff, taking quick action to prevent shootings.

Anonymous tip systems can also help in seizing guns before they are used, while clear backpacks and metal detectors at entrances do little to stop guns being brought to school, according to the report.

Whether or not a firearm seizure is communicated to parents depends on the school and district. Some are very transparent, while others try to avoid public scrutiny by limiting the information available or even downplaying the incident to families.

The discovery of firearms on campus prompted various responses by the schools and students. Some schools increased their security measures. Some incidents prompted students to be afraid to go to school.

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About the Author

robin hattersley headshot

Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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One response to “More than 6 Guns Per Day Were Seized at U.S. Schools Last Year”

  1. Sgt. Jeff Weiss, Ret. says:

    I think that a reasonable first step in dealing with this situation is to hold parents legally responsible for their children’s actions. While many, if not most, firearms are obtained on the “street” market where parents would not be aware of the possession. The child knowing his parents, in the home, will be held responsible for the infraction, and the child will be held responsible by his parents, will serve to deter the acquisition and possession.
    The article noting that incidents may not be reported, and perpetrators may not be held accountable, is clearly unacceptable.

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