Photo by Tim Mudd via Unsplash
Research suggests the primary factor contributing to the frequency of school shootings in the United States is the prevalence and availability of guns. While several other factors contribute to one becoming a school shooter, the ability to obtain a weapon is more common here than anywhere else. Homeland Security Expert William Pelfrey Jr. reported, “eighty to ninety percent of all school shootings in the world happen in the US,” via VCU News.
Coincidentally, the United States has the highest gun ownership rate in the world, with 390 million guns owned by its 334 million residents. Barriers to gun ownership are also among the lowest in the world yet several countries require extensive licensing, proof of necessity, mental health checks, background checks and other measures before allowing a citizen to own a firearm according to worldpopulationreview.com.
Peter Frampton, a famous musician from the UK tweeted on March 26, “26 years ago, a gunman entered Dunblane Primary School in Scotland, killing 16 kids and a teacher. The UK govt responded by enacting tight gun control legislation. In the 9400+ days since, there have been a total of 0 school shootings in the UK.” This was seemingly in response to the Nashville shooting carried out by Audrey/Aiden Hale that morning.
In a Best Colleges Survey, 65% of students said school shootings, in particular, made them concerned for their safety on campus. A majority (63%) said stricter gun laws would make them feel safer. Additionally, gun policy and control were among the top three voting issues for college students in the recent 2022 midterm election, especially for Gen Z voters.
So, while the research on the availability and history of stricter gun control equaling the less likelihood of this continuing to happen in our schools—why is this still continuing? College students are one of the largest voting demographics, yet there has been no change in policy despite there being numerous calls to action. And while school shootings are more popular in K-12 schools, colleges are not safe.
Unfortunately, there is no tracking of college or state universities’ gun violence as extensively as in K-12 schools. The most recently recorded is from Feb. 13, 2023 at Michigan State University, yet the deadliest college shooting happened in 2007 at Virginia Tech with 32 lives being lost and 23 others being injured. In that instance, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has pointed out that despite being federally prohibited from purchasing firearms, the shooter obtained guns from two licensed dealers after background checks.
What does this mean for Americans who worry about their children coming home from school safe every day? Children, college students and parents alike shouldn’t fear for their own or others’ lives when they start their day. 74 people have been killed or injured this year in American schools already, and I’m not going to begin to talk about mass shootings in the general population. Living close in proximity to a large city like Philadelphia, where shootings aren’t uncommon—I feel as though we need to think about what can happen to not only ourselves, but the ones we love when gun violence is considered.
Sydney Troxel is a fourth-year media and culture major with dual minors in journalism and digital marketing. ST0935596@wcupa.edu