K-12 School Shootings Really Are on the Rise, According to This Analysis

Guns & America narrowed down data from a K-12 school shooting database to fit within a more specified definition of an active shooter incident.

K-12 School Shootings Really Are on the Rise, According to This Analysis

According to this analysis, there have been 68 school shootings since Columbine.

As the debate continues on what constitutes an active shooter incident and whether these incidents are actually on the rise on school campuses, a public media reporting project on the role of guns in America threw its hat in the ring and did its own analysis of available data.

While still extremely rare, school shootings are happening more often — at least according to the report released Tuesday by Guns & America.

In its analysis, Guns & America defined a school shooting as an incident in which there is an active shooter on school property, using the FBI’s definition of “active shooter.”

Here’s the FBI’s definition of an active shooter: “An individual (or individuals) actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.” In its statistics, the FBI does not include drug or gang violence and accidental discharges of a gun. Guns & America also excluded domestic violence incidents from its data.

To gather its findings, Guns & America used data from the K-12 School Shooting Database, which is maintained by the Center for Homeland Defense and Security. However, since this database gathers “each and every instance a gun is brandished, is fired, or a bullet hits school property for any reason, regardless of the number of victims, time of day, or day of week,” Guns & America filtered out incidents that did not fit within their definition.

Based on its narrowed definition, the report found there have been 68 school shootings since 1999. Here’s an Excel sheet with more information on each of the shootings, including date, school, number of victims and summary of how the incident unfolded.

Next, the report found that the average number of days between school shootings has decreased. From 1994 to 2014, the average number of days between shootings was 124 days. From 2015 to 2018, the average number dropped to 77 days.

Below is a chart of the data, created by Guns & America:

Here are some additional findings:

  • Between 1999 and 2012, there were four periods of time longer than 400 days without a school shooting
    • The longest was 574 days from April 2001 to November 2002
  • Since Sandy Hook, the U.S. has not gone more than 231 days without a school shooting
  • In 2018, there were nine school shootings — the highest number in the 20-year period since 1999; 30 people were killed and 52 were injured
    • 2018 tied with 2012 as one of the two deadliest years
      • In 2012, 29 people were killed and six were injured

You can find out more about the methodology of this report here.

For comparison, here are some other organizations that have published active shooter statistic reports:

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About the Author


Amy is Campus Safety’s Executive Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

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4 responses to “K-12 School Shootings Really Are on the Rise, According to This Analysis”

  1. Joan Kuhar says:

    The Platte Canyon High School school shooting where 7 female students were abducted, 4 were released by the lone shooter and Emily Keyes was shot and killed on 9-27-2006 is missing from the Excel spreadsheet. Her parents started the I Love You Guys Foundation to educate schools on how to respond to active shooter events. Her father, along with one of the police officers who responded, spoke at the Gloucester County, Southern NJ Prosecutors’ Annual School Safety program for local officers and the community at large several years ago.

  2. Rick says:

    And these stats correspond with the huge rise in psychotropic drug prescriptions. ALL of the mass shooters, except for the terror attacks, were on psychotropic drugs that have side effects of homicidal and suicidal thoughts/actions. End gun free zones so people can protect themselves instead of hiding and waiting to be killed.

  3. Dianna Sandora says:

    I’d love to know about colleges and universities. Is there a database keeping that information?

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