US School Shootings Surge in 2021, Marks Highest Records since 2008

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This year, up until October 3, the United States has been shaken by no less than 58 school shootings. College campuses have borne witness to 19 of these appalling incidents, while K-12 school properties have been the tragic sites of the remaining 39. These violent events have claimed the lives of at least 28 people, while causing injuries to over 67 more, as shown by an examination of events reported by the Gun Violence Archive, Education Week, and Everytown for Gun Safety.

This grim and disturbing tally is not arrived at arbitrarily. CNN has meticulously cross-referenced these reports of school gunfire with both school and police records as well as media accounts. Any instance of gun-related violence that has taken place on school property, spanning from kindergartens to colleges and universities is included, provided that a person has sustained a gunshot wound, excluding the shooter. Importantly, ‘school property’ is a broad term—encompassing buildings, fields, buses, parking lots and stadiums—and all accidental discharges are also part of the count if they result in someone being shot, unless the shooter is law enforcement or school security personnel.

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The closure of schools during the first year of the pandemic brought a significant fall in the instances of gun violence at schools. However, this was short-lived, and there has been a chilling upward trend in school shootings in recent years, with the years 2021 and 2022 marking record highs since 2008, when CNN initiated tracking of these horrifying incidents. Last year was among the deadliest recorded years since the tracking began, with an unforgettable tragedy at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. This blood-curdling incident saw 19 young students and two life-giving educators slain, with more than a dozen others bearing scars of the shocking violence.

This rising tide of gun violence has sparked activism among students and educators. A few dedicated educators have also forsaken their profession owing to this distressing issue.

A closer look at the geographic dispersion of these events reveals troubling trends. Some southern states, in relation to their populations, have witnessed the highest rates of school shootings since 2008. Washington, DC stands out with the highest rate—five total shootings, translating to over 0.7 per 100,000 people. Texas, however, endured the highest overall number of school shootings, a staggering 50 in all. Notably, Montana, Wyoming, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island stand out as outliers, having logged no school shootings during this period, according to the rigorous analysis by CNN.