The number of school shootings in the U.S. just hit a record high.
There were 188 shootings with casualties at public and private elementary schools during the 2021-22 school year, according to new federal data. About two-thirds of them caused injuries. Fifty-seven led to deaths.
It’s the second year in a row that the number of shootings with casualties hit an all-time peak in American schools. And it’s more than twice as many casualty-involved shootings than were last recorded: Last year’s figure, 93, was the highest in two decades.
The data is part of the National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES) annual crime and safety report, which was published Wednesday. Though the report’s authors advise interpreting data since the onset of the pandemic “with caution,” the statistics indicate a significant spike in certain types of school shootings even in post-pandemic years.
The findings come as the U.S. grapples with historically high levels of gun violence. The total number of gun-related deaths so far this year has already surpassed 30,000, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Earlier this summer, Fourth of July celebrations were once again marred by the specter of widespread mass shootings.
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The report gives insight into the types of shooters that have wrought havoc on campuses over the past two decades. Of the 47 people responsible for active shooting incidents at elementary and secondary schools in the past two decades, 46 were male. The vast majority, 34, were 12 to 18 years old.
School shootings were defined in the report as incidents in which “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.” There have been 30 school shootings so far in 2023, per Education Week’s national school shooting database. Sixteen people, including 12 students and children, have been killed. Thirty-two in have been injured.
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One of the most recent fatal shootings happened Tuesday at St. Helena Career & College Academy in Greensburg, Louisiana. The incident left one student dead and two injured. Law enforcement took a suspect, another student, into custody.
A national NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll conducted in May showed most Americans – six in 10 – think controlling gun violence in the U.S. is more important than gun rights. That figure was the highest it’s been in a decade. The poll surveyed nearly 1,300 adults.
Anti-gun groups sharply criticized the latest figures Wednesday. Sarah Burd-Sharps, senior director of research at Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement to USA TODAY that the numbers paint “a distressing, but accurate, portrayal of the dangers facing our kids today.”
“The threat of gun violence at our schools and in our communities has become a constant in our children’s lives,” she said. “Yet, school shootings are not inevitable - they are the result of years of policy inaction.”
In a statement to USA TODAY, Billy McLaughlin, a spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, said his organization took issue with the methodology behind the data. He also called the report “a diversion from the real issues,” which he said included “the alarming Biden crime wave, policies that are too lenient on criminals, and the inaction of leftist district attorneys whose proper enforcement could save lives immediately.”
Zachary Schermele is a breaking news and education reporter for USA Today. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on X at @ZachSchermele.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: School shootings in US hit record high for second year in a row