According to a report released Friday, no school year in the United States has seen as much gunfire in nearly a decade as the 2021-2022 academic year.
Everytown For Gun Safety, a nonpartisan organization that advocates against gun violence, released the report. It shows that between August 1 and May 31, 2016, there were 193 incidents of gunfire, more than doubling the previous year’s total.
Everytown used data dating back to the 2013-2014 school year to compile the report. There were more than 75 incidents of gunfire in any other school year. According to Everytown, the 2021-2022 incidents resulted in 59 deaths and 138 injuries.
“We don’t have to live this way, our children and educators sure as hell shouldn’t die this way,” said Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, which is part of Everytown For Gun Safety.
According to the report’s authors, the majority of school shootings are carried out by current or former students. As a result, most shootings can be avoided simply by keeping guns out of the hands of students, according to the authors.
“The good news is that much of this gunfire can be avoided,” said Sarah Burd-Sharps, senior director of research at Everytown.
According to the report, homicides, assaults, suicides, and suicide attempts account for nearly 60% of all gun violence in schools.
Mass shootings, defined by Everytown as four or more people being killed or injured by a shooter, account for less than 1% of all incidents but result in a disproportionate number of deaths and injuries.
According to the report, all students involved in school shootings and self-harm incidents were current or former students.
According to the report, the best ways to prevent shootings and save lives are to care for distressed students and keep guns locked up.
According to the report, “everyone” who interacts with students needs better resources to intervene and connect students in crisis with help. The recently passed Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which President Joe Biden signed in June, includes funding for family and school-based mental health services.
The report explains how easy access to guns at home is one of the leading causes of shootings, and how securely storing guns at home is one of the simplest ways to keep students from bringing them to school.
According to the group’s data, at least 5.4 million children lived in a home with at least one unlocked and loaded firearm in 2021.
Moms Demand Action has spent the last two years working to get local school boards to enact policies requiring students to be sent home with instructions on how to safely secure firearms.
The group’s efforts resulted in school boards in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Texas, and Vermont passing secure firearms awareness policies affecting over two million students in December 2021.
Many school shootings, including suicides, are preventable, according to Burd-Sharps, because students who bring guns to school with the intent to harm themselves or others almost always exhibit warning signs.
When a student exhibits concerning behavior, such as expressing a desire to harm someone, other students “say nothing because they’re concerned that the repercussions for that child will be drastic and immediate, not supportive and nurturing, but immediately disciplinary,” according to Burds-Sharps.
Adults in schools must also connect the dots between how a student acts in class and whether they have access to firearms at home, according to Watts.
She believes that parents of students “in crisis” should be directly asked questions such as, “Your child is struggling and exhibiting concerning behavior – do they have easy access to guns in the home?”
According to the report, evidence-based steps to keep guns and shooters out of schools include secure gun storage, discussing warning signs, and simply ensuring school doors and gates are locked.
School shooting drills, particularly those that simulate what it would be like if there was a real active shooter or intruder, are “exactly the opposite” of what schools should be doing to prevent tragedies.
Drills, which can include fake gunfire and masked actors, caused “alarming and sustained” increases in “depression, stress, anxiety, and fear of death” among students, parents, and teachers, according to a study conducted by Everytown and the Georgia Institute of Technology.