More than352,000students have experienced gun violence at school since Columbine
There have been 380 school shootings since 1999, according to Post data
There were more school shootings in 2022 — 46 — than in any year since at least 1999.
Beyond the dead and wounded, children who witness the violence or cower behind locked doors to hide from it can be profoundly traumatized.
[After Parkland: What we’ve learned tracking school shootings for 5 years]
The federal government does not track school shootings, so The Washington Post has spent years tracking how many children in the United States have been exposed to gun violence during school hours since the Columbine High massacre in 1999.
The Post pieces together its numbers from news articles, open-source databases, law enforcement reports, and calls to schools and police departments.
There have been 380 school shootings since Columbine
A 14-year-old student was fumbling through his backpack when a gun inside it fired, grazing a teacher.Source: Knoxnews.com
An 18-year-old student shot and wounded two other students in the school parking lot.Source: NBC12 WSLS.com
A former student shot and killed three students and three adults.Source: The Tennessean
A staff member shot himself in the school parking lot, causing the school to go on lockdown.Source: WSBT
A student shot and wounded two adults during a routine weapons check.Source: 9NEWS
The Post’s search for more shootings will continue, and it’s possible reporters will locate additional incidents from previous years.
Hundreds of outlets cover the deadliest attacks, such as the Feb. 14, 2018, rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fla., where a 19-year-old man with an AR-style rifle killed 17 people.
Others are covered by a single newspaper, such as a 2001 shooting at Pearl C. Anderson Middle School in Dallas, where a 14-year-old boy held a revolver to a girl’s chest and asked her whether she was “ready to die” before a bullet fired, grazing her hand.
Across all such incidents, The Post has found that at least 199 children, educators and other people have been killed, and another 428 have been injured.
Even as the list of incidents has expanded, however, the trend lines have remained consistent.
School shootings disproportionately affect Black children
Among The Post’s most important findings: the disproportionate impact of school shootings on children of color.
Almost all the deadliest assaults were committed by White gunmen, a reality that has left much of the public with the false impression that school shootings almost exclusively affect White students. Children of color, however, are far more likely to experience campus gun violence: more than twice as much for Hispanic students and over three times as much for Black students.
At schools with majority Black student bodies, shooters typically target a specific person, limiting the number of people shot — and the subsequent media exposure.
Black students make up 16.6% of the school population ...
... but they experience school shootings at twice that rate.
The Post has reviewed more than 180 shootings committed by juveniles since Columbine, and in cases where the source of the gun could be determined, 86 percent of the weapons were found in the homes of friends, relatives or parents.
The median age of a school shooter is 16
Children, The Post also determined, are responsible for more than half the country’s school shootings — none of which would be possible if those children didn’t have access to firearms.
The ranks of school shooters include a 6-year-old boy, who killed a classmate he shot on purpose, and a 15-year-old girl, who did the same to a friend for rejecting her romantic overtures.110 shooters with unknown age not included
School shootings on the rise
While it remains highly unlikely that any student will experience a school shooting, the number of incidents has risen rapidly in recent years. Through 2017, the country averaged about 11 school shootings a year, never eclipsing 16 in a single year. But starting in 2018, violent incidents started climbing.
In 2020, the novel coronavirus closed campuses for months, and the number of shootings declined. But with classes in session again, 42 K-12 schools experienced school shootings in 2021, and 46 endured one the next year — mirroring the nation’s broader rise in gun violence as it emerged from the pandemic.