Two years after a school shooting in Newtown, Conn., horrified the nation, not much has changed in terms of U.S. gun laws and the number of weapons in circulation in the United States has only increased. Worst of all, according to one gun-control advocacy group, 94 other school shooting incidents have been recorded across the nation—nearly one every week. These school shootings resulted in 45 deaths and 78 non-fatal gunshot injuries. In 32 percent of these incidents at least one person died.
“How many more before our leaders pass common-sense laws to prevent gun violence and save lives?” advocates at Everytown for Gun Safety asked. The group released an analysis of two years of shooting incidents at U.S. public schools since 20 six- and seven-year-olds were gunned down along with six staff and teachers who died attempting to protect them at the Sandy Hook School in Newtown on Dec. 14, 2012. The shooter, Adam Lanza, took his own life as police arrived.
According to the group's review of news reports from around the United States, during the last three months alone, there were 16 school shootings including a single week in which there were five incidents in five separate states.
“Communities all over the country live in fear of gun violence. That’s unacceptable,” the group said. “We should feel secure in sending our children to school—comforted by the knowledge that they’re safe.”
According to the analysis, of the K-12 school shootings in which the shooter’s age was known, 70 percent (28 of 40 incidents) were perpetrated by minors. Among these K-12 school shootings where it was possible to determine the source of the firearm, nearly two-thirds of the shooters (10 of 16) obtained their guns from home. In 35 shootings—more than a third of all incidents—at least one person was shot after an argument or confrontation escalated and a gun was on hand.
Every town for Gun Safety reports that the 94 school shootings occurred in 33 states across the country. Fifty-three percent of the shootings took place at K-12 schools and 47 percent took place on college or university campuses. In 65 incidents (69 percent), the perpetrator(s) intentionally injured or killed another person with a gun; of these, 23 incidents resulted in at least one homicide. In 16 incidents, the shooter attempted or completed suicide; in six incidents after shooting someone else. Six shootings were accidental. In 13 other incidents, a gun was discharged but no one was injured.
The group adds, “When it comes to American children being exposed to gunfire, these shootings are just the tip of the iceberg. A recent report by the Urban Institute showed that in just a single school district, Washington, D.C., there were at least 336 gunshots in the vicinity of schools over just a single school year.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics likewise took note of the Sandyhook anniversary to “renew the call for Americans and policymakers to keep all children safe from gun violence.”
Thomas K. McInerny, M.D., FAAP, past president of the AAP, said, “Our hearts are still broken for the families of the children at Sandy Hook elementary school and for the whole community in Newtown, Connecticut. That tragedy serves as a constant reminder of the pain that families all around the country experience every day, over and over again, when a child is injured or killed by a gun. Since that terrible day….daily gun violence and suicide have continued unabated, shattering lives and families.
“As a country, we are simply not doing enough to stop this,” McInerney said. “Pediatricians have been working all across the country in state capitols, local communities and in Washington, DC to advocate for public policies that prevent gun violence and ameliorate its effects on children, but progress has been too slow.”
“Children deserve to be safe and to feel safe in their homes and communities,” said James M. Perrin, M.D., FAAP, president of the AAP. “Common-sense policies like safe storage of weapons, physician counseling about firearms, background checks, and limits on access to assault weapons can make a difference. The AAP will continue to advocate for these simple but powerful policies as long as children continue to be harmed by guns.”