Study Finds School Shootings Less Likely in States with Background Checks

The researchers said more information was needed to prove causality between between background checks and school shootings.

An examination of school shootings revealed that states requiring background checks for gun buyers were around half as likely to have a school shooting.

The study’s authors concluded that the 17 states in the country with mandatory background checks for at least some gun purchases were 45 percent less likely to experience a school shooting, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The study was based on media reports of 154 school shootings between Jan.1, 2013 and Dec. 31, 2015. Researchers defined a school shooting as “an incident when a firearm was discharged inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds.”

The report also had several broad findings about the characteristics of school shootings in their study’s timeframe. The additional findings are listed below.

  • There were 35 school shootings in 2013, 55 in 2014 and 64 in 2015
  • The four states that require background checks for people purchasing ammunition had an 89 percent lower risk of experiencing a school shooting
  • Slightly more than half of the school shootings occurred on K-12 campuses
  • Of the 154 school shootings tallied, 45 resulted in the death of someone other than the shooter while the others involved non-fatal injuries
  • Just over a third of shooters were known to be students
  • Of the victims who died of gunshot wounds, 59 percent were students
  • Nearly all of the school shooters were males

The study, which was published in the journal Injury Prevention, was conducted by researchers from Boston University, Columbia University and the University of Texas Southwestern School of Medicine.

The researchers said their data only shows correlation between background checks and school shootings, not a causal relationship. To gather stronger, more reliable data, the researchers said the government should improve its crime statistic collection.

“What we really need is a national registry and granular information [about school shootings],” study leader Bindu Kalesan said.

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