A school shooting is an occurrence in which gun violence takes place at an educational institution. A school shooting involves a firearm being discharged at a school infrastructure, and may refer to incidents of shootings on a school bus or near school property while school is in session. A school shooting can happen anywhere in the world where there is an access to firearms. These shootings have sparked a political debate over whether firearms should be allowed in the classroom and if there should be stricter gun control. There are notable school shootings in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, South America, Asia, the Oceanic region, and Africa with the United States bringing the highest number of school related shootings.
- 1 Profiling
- 2 Notable school shootings
- 3 Political impact
- 4 Police response and countermeasures
- 5 Mental illness
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Literature
- 9 External links
School shooting is a topic of intense interest in the United States. A thorough study of all United States school shootings by the U.S. Secret Service warned against the belief that a certain "type" of student would be a perpetrator. Any profile would fit too many students to be useful and may not apply to a potential perpetrator. Some lived with both parents in "an ideal, All-American family." Some were children of divorce, or lived in foster homes. A few were loners, but most had close friends. Some experts such as Alan Lipman have warned against the dearth of empirical validity of profiling methods.
While it may be simplistic to assume a straightforward "profile", the study did find certain similarities among the perpetrators. "The researchers found that killers do not 'snap'. They plan. They acquire weapons. These children take a long, considered, public path toward violence." Princeton's Katherine Newman has found that, far from being "loners", the perpetrators are "joiners" whose attempts at social integration fail, and that they let their thinking and even their plans be known, sometimes frequently over long periods of time.
Perpetrators who "run amok" in schools and other public settings do also share in common a severe lapse or more pervasive deficit in their capacity for empathy coupled with their inability to contain their aggression—this may be due to significant psychopathy, psychotic symptoms (i.e. loss of a sense of reality), and/or to a consequence of significant violent traumatization—such as that of early physical abuse, that contributes to the development of dissociative states of mind (i.e. disavowal of reality, derealization, depersonalization). In short, as clinical psychiatrist Daniel Schechter has written, for a baby to develop into a troubled adolescent who then turns lethally violent, a convergence of multiple interacting factors must occur, that is "every bit as complicated...as it is for a tornado to form on a beautiful spring day in Kansas."
Many of the shooters told Secret Service investigators that alienation or persecution drove them to violence. According to the United States Secret Service, instead of looking for traits, the Secret Service urges adults to ask about behavior:
- What has this child said?
- Do they have grievances?
- What do their friends know?
- Do they have access to weapons?
- Are they depressed or despondent?
One "trait" that has not yet attracted as much attention is the gender difference: nearly all school shootings are perpetrated by young males, and in some instances the violence has clearly been gender-specific. Bob Herbert addressed this in an October 2006 New York Times editorial. However, at least three female school shooting incidents have been documented, including Laurie Dann of Winnetka, Illinois.
According to Keith Darling-Brekhus, "Since 1982 almost all school shootings have been perpetrated by white males." These shootings have happened in "suburban and rural school districts" and many seem to be random with random targets. Most of these shooters tend to come from two-parent households and have been found to appear on the honor roll at their school.
School shootings receive extensive media coverage and are frequent in the US (see list below). They have sometimes resulted in nationwide changes of schools' policies concerning discipline and security. Some experts have described fears about school shootings as a type of moral panic.
Such incidents may also lead to nationwide discussion on gun laws.
"Bullying is common in schools and seemed to play a role in the lives of many of the school shooters" A typical bullying interaction consist of three parts, the offender/bully, a victim and one or more bystanders. This formula of three enables the bully to easily create public humiliation for their victim. Students who are bullied tend to develop behavioral problems, depression, less self-control, poorer social skills, and do worse in school. Once humiliated, victims never want to be a victim again and try to regain their image by joining groups. Often, they are rejected by their peers and follow through by restoring justice in what they see as an unjust situation. Their plan for restoration many times results in violence as shown by the school shooters. 87% of school shooters claimed or left behind evidence of them being victims of bullying, including Nathan Ferris, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, Edmar Aparecido Freitas, Brian Head, Seung-Hui Cho, Wellington Menezes Oliveira, Jeff Weise, and Adam Lanza.
Despite twenty two international drug regulatory warnings on psychiatric drugs citing effects of mania, hostility, violence and even homicidal ideation, and dozens of high profile school shootings/killings tied to psychiatric drug use, there has yet to be a federal investigation in the United States on the link between psychiatric drugs and acts of violence. At least 31 school shootings and/or school-related acts of violence have been committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs resulting in 162 wounded and 72 killed (in other school shootings, information about their drug use was never made public—neither confirming or refuting if they were under the influence of prescribed drugs). The most important fact about this list, is that these are only cases where the information about their psychiatric drug use was made public. 
However, there is no direct causal relationship that has been proven between school shootings and psychiatric drugs. According to Al Knight, "what has been said is that the drugs may have either masked a deeper problem or reacted with other factors to produce resulting violence." In short, the school shootings have not been found to be as a direct result of these drugs and the role they may have played if involved is currently unknown.
Notable school shootings
The following is a list of incidents of shootings that occurred at North American schools.
The following is a list of incidents of shootings that occurred at Canadian schools.
|Altona schoolhouse shooting||Altona, Manitoba||October 10||1902||4||J. J. Toews, a schoolteacher, confronted on the road three school trustees with whom he had some problems, drew a revolver, and shot all of them. Toews then returned to the schoolhouse and shot three female students before turning the gun on himself. Two of the trustees, Rempel and Hiebert, as well as two of the girls shot sustained fatal wounds.|
|Ross Sheppard High School shooting||Edmonton, Alberta||March 16||1959||1||19-year-old Stan Williamson opened fire with a .22 calibre rifle inside a crowded corridor of Ross Sheppard High School, killing 16-year-old Howard Gates and wounding five teenage girls. The shooting ended when three 18-year-old students held the gunman down until he could be arrested by police.|
|Centennial Secondary School shooting||Brampton, Ontario||May 28||1975||3||16-year-old gunman Michael Slobodian shot and killed a fellow student and a teacher, and injured 13 other students before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide in a school hallway. Slobodian is the first recorded high-school aged school shooter in the country.|
|St. Pius X High School shooting||Ottawa, Ontario||October 27||1975||2||Robert Poulin, an 18-year-old St. Pius student, opened fire on his classmates with a shotgun, killing one and wounding five before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide. Poulin had raped and stabbed his 17-year-old friend Kim Rabot to death prior to the shooting. A book entitled Rape of a Normal Mind was written about the incident.|
|Sturgeon Creek High School Shooting||Winnipeg, Manitoba||October||1978||1||A 17-year-old student shot a 16-year-old to death, allegedly for ridiculing the American rock band Kiss. He was arrested and found not guilty of first-degree murder by reason of insanity.|
|École Polytechnique massacre||Montreal, Quebec||December 6||1989||15||25-year-old Marc Lépine, armed with a legally obtained semi-automatic rifle and a hunting knife, embarked on a shooting spree throughout the school, killing fourteen women and injuring ten other women and four men before killing himself.|
|Concordia University massacre||Montreal, Quebec||August 24||1992||4||Dr. Valery Fabrikant, a 52-year-old former associate professor of mechanical engineering at Concordia, shot and killed four of his ex-colleagues and wounded a fifth before being subdued by two people he took hostage and being arrested by police.|
|W. R. Myers High School shooting||Taber, Alberta||April 28||1999||1||A 14-year-old student, Todd Cameron Smith, walked into his school and randomly shot at three students, killing one named Jason Lang and injuring another before being arrested. This shooting took place only eight days after the Columbine High School massacre and is widely believed to have been a copycat crime.|
|Bramalea Secondary School||Brampton, Ontario||December 10||2004||1||On December 10, 2004, a gunman shot 47-year-old grade 10 teacher Aysegul Candir in the head multiple times in a Bramalea Secondary School parking lot. Mrs. Candir was pronounced dead in hospital later in the day. Peel Regional Police would later apprehend Candir's 62 year old husband, Erhun, and charge him with murder. The incident was considered as a domestic dispute, and even though the school was locked down for most of the day, students were never in harms way. Mrs. Candir is remembered as a "wonderful" teacher.|
|Dawson College shooting||Montreal, Quebec||September 13||2006||2||25-year-old Kimveer Gill began shooting outside the de Maisonneuve Boulevard entrance to the school, hitting several students and visitors, and moved towards the atrium by the cafeteria on the main floor, where he shot dozens of additional victims. The shooter later committed suicide by shooting himself in the head after being shot in the arm by police. One victim died at the scene, while another 19 were injured, eight of whom were listed in critical condition with six requiring surgery.|
|C. W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute shooting||Toronto, Ontario||May 23||2007||1||Two 17-year-old Canadian citizens, whom the media can not identify under the provisions of Canada's Youth Criminal Justice Act, were arrested on May 27, 2007, and charged with the first-degree murder of a 15-year-old student at the C. W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute. Prior to one of the arrests, police had taken the unusual step of obtaining a judicial order to publish one suspect's name and photograph as he was considered armed and dangerous. Media reported his identity and photo, then had to take the stories off their websites after he was arrested hours later.|
|Bendale Business and Technical Institute shooting||Toronto, Ontario||September 16||2008||0||A 16-year-old boy was shot in the chest in the school's parking lot following an altercation involving several people. The victim was hospitalized in critical condition. On September 17, 2008, Toronto Police announced it had made two arrests in the case; 18-year-old Mark Deicsics, was charged with armed robbery.|
|Central Technical School shooting||Toronto, Ontario||September 30||2010||0||At least one gunshot was fired from a semi-automatic pistol following a confrontation between four students. The school was placed under lock down until 4:45 p.m., when two 17-year-olds were charged by the Toronto Police Service, one with charges related to the shooting, the other with conspiracy. No one was seriously hurt or killed, but the shooting victim had suffered a graze wound to his temple.|
|Les Racines de vie Montessori||Gatineau, Quebec||April 5||2013||2||A gunman killed one man and himself at a small daycare. There were 53 children present at the school, which is divided between two houses. Daycare staff at the houses, 225 and 229 Gamelin St., called 911 at 10:27 a.m. about a man threatening people. Police arrived and found one man dead with a shotgun beside him, apparently a suicide. A second dead man was found soon after. Police have identified one of the dead as Robert Charron but have not named him the shooter.|
|York University Shooting||Toronto, Ontario||March 6||2014||0||One woman was shot and suffered non-life threatening injuries and another woman received minor non-gun-related injuries from the suspect. The shooting took place late at night at the University Student Centre. A suspect was seen running from a campus pub and remains at large. York University is no stranger to threats to student safety. In the past the school dealt with a rapist who entered five rooms and raped two students at a university residence in 2007. In 2011, security concerns were raised yet again when news broke of the break-in, assault, and strangulation of international student Qian Liu at an off-campus home located in a student housing area.|
The following is a list of incidents of shootings that occurred at schools in Mexico.
|Ciudad Juárez school shooting||Ciudad Juárez||August 24||2011||1||Two cars drove up to an elementary school at around noontime, as parents were waiting for their children to be released from school. The men in the cars started firing assault rifles, killing one man, and wounding four women and one man. The elementary school was placed on lock-down and students were released after the situation was being handled. While the motive of the attack is reported to be unknown, schools in the Ciudad Juárez area have reported receiving threats and extortion demands in the past.|
|Ciudad Juárez school shooting||Ciudad Juárez||January 12||2012||1||A 30-year-old man was killed by being shot nine times in front of children at an elementary school as they were leaving for the day. The shooting induced panic from parents of children, some of whom witnessed the shooting. The gunman was unidentified, as of 2012.|
The following is a list of incidents of shootings that occurred at schools in the continent of Europe.
|Bremen school shooting||Bremen, Germany||June 20||1913||5||29-year-old unemployed teacher Heinz Schmidt indiscriminately shot at students and teachers, killing four girls and wounding more than twenty others before being subdued by school staff. A fifth girl also died during the incident when she fell down a staircase.|
|Kungälv school shooting||Kungälv, Sweden||March 4||1961||1||A 17-year-old student fired fifteen bullets into a crowd at a school dance at Kungälvs Läroverk (a/k/a Thorildskolan), killing one student and wounding six others before escaping. He turned himself in to local police the following morning and was arrested.|
|Cologne school massacre||Cologne, Germany||June 11||1964||11||42-year-old Walter Seifert attacked numerous students and adults with a flamethrower, killing eight students before murdering his last two victims, both female teachers, with a lance. He then swallowed E605, poisoning himself in a suicide attempt; he died the following day.|
|Eppstein school shooting||Eppstein, Germany||June 3||1983||6||34-year-old Czech refugee Karel Charva opened fire in a sixth-grade classroom, first shooting and wounding the teacher, then killing three students and injuring fourteen others. He then killed a teacher and a police officer who tried to intervene before committing suicide. An additional thirty children suffered from shock during the incident.|
|Raumanmeri school shooting||Rauma, Finland||January 24||1989||2||Two students were fatally shot by a 14-year-old student at the Raumanmeri secondary school. The shooter had claimed to be a victim of bullying.|
|Aarhus University shooting||Aarhus, Denmark||April 5||1994||3||35-year-old student Flemming Nielsen shot and killed two people and wounded two others with a sawed-off shotgun before taking his own life.|
|Dunblane massacre||Dunblane, Scotland||March 13||1996||18||43-year-old Thomas Hamilton opened fire in a gymnasium, killing sixteen children and one adult and injuring fifteen others before committing suicide. It remains the deadliest attack on children in Scottish history.|
|ROC de Leijgraaf||Veghel, Netherlands||December 7||1999||0||A 17-year-old student opened fire at ROC de Leijgraaf school, wounding three students and one teacher. One student was critically injured. It was the first school shooting in the history of the Netherlands.|
|Erfurt massacre||Erfurt, Germany||April 26||2002||17||19-year-old Robert Steinhäuser began shooting through his former school, targeting teachers and faculty members. Twelve teachers and one administrator were killed, along with two students and a police officer; only one other person was injured. The shooter then committed suicide.|
|Coburg shooting||Coburg, Germany||July 3||2003||1||A 16-year-old student, known only as Florian K., shoots and wounds his teacher and an intervening school psychiatrist before taking his own life.|
|Terra College||The Hague, Netherlands||January||2004||1||A student shoots the school principal, Hans van Wieren, in the head.|
|Rötz school shooting||Rötz, Germany||March 7||2005||0||After being ordered to leave the classroom, a 14-year-old student returned with a gun and threatened the life of the 35-year-old class teacher. During a struggle the weapon was fired and taken from the student. Investigators' findings state that the student did not intend to kill the teacher, but himself. No one was injured.|
|Geschwister Scholl School attack||Emsdetten, Germany||November 20||2006||1||18-year-old Bastian Bosse, a former student of the school, fired several shots with two sawed-off rifles and a caplock pistol and also threw several homemade smoke bombs before killing himself. The incident ended with no other fatalities, with 37 people being injured, including four students who suffered gunshot wounds, one teacher wounded by being hit in the face with a smoke bomb, sixteen police officers who suffered from smoke inhalation, and the school custodian who was shot in the abdomen inside the school.|
|Jokela school shooting||Tuusula, Finland||November 7||2007||9||18-year-old Pekka-Eric Auvinen opened fire in the school's main hallway, killing six students, school principal Helena Kalmi, and the school nurse before shooting and wounding himself in a suicide attempt; he later died at a hospital. One other person suffered gunshot wounds, and eleven people were injured by shattering glass while escaping from the school building. The day before the incident, Auvinen posted a video on YouTube predicting the massacre at the school.|
|Kauhajoki school shooting||Kauhajoki, Finland||September 23||2008||11||22-year-old student Matti Juhani Saari entered the school via the basement and opened fire in a classroom he attended before setting it on fire with homemade Molotov cocktails and then fleeing the scene. Nine students and one staff member died in the incident. A woman was shot in the head and critically wounded, but survived after having two operations, while ten other students sustained minor injuries such as sprains and cuts from broken glass. Authorities eventually found Saari, who had shot himself but was still alive; he died a short time later. It was assumed that the Jokela case, the previous year (above), inspired Saari to commit the massacre.|
|Winnenden school shooting||Winnenden, Germany||March 11||2009||16||17-year-old Tim Kretschmer, a former student of the school, opened fire in two classrooms and a chemistry laboratory, killing nine and injuring seven others. He then successfully escaped the school, killing two female teachers in the process. Afterwards, he shot and killed the caretaker of a psychiatric facility and then carjacked a motorist, who drove him into another town before escaping unharmed. The shooter opened fire in a car showroom after unsuccessfully trying to steal a car, killing two and injuring two others. He then committed suicide after a brief shootout with police.|
|OAED Vocational College shooting||Athens, Greece||April 10||2009||1||19-year-old Dimitris Patmanidis shot and wounded a student and two workers from a nearby technical company before shooting and wounding himself in the head in a suicide attempt. He died later at a hospital.|
|Kanebogen Elementary School shooting||Harstad, Norway||April 28||2009||0||A nine-year-old student fires a shotgun in schoolyard; however, nobody was injured in the incident. The shooter was disarmed and subdued by a female teacher, but due to his age, when he wasn't tried for the crime, although his father was fined for not keeping the shotgun, a rifle, and ammunition according to Norwegian rules. This was the first Norwegian school shooting.|
|University of Pécs shooting||Pécs, Hungary||November 26||2009||1||A 23-year-old student entered the building of the university's biophysics research institute and opened fire in the classroom, killing one man. In earlier reports, two people were reported to be in critical condition and a third in serious condition.|
|Toulouse school shooting||Toulouse, France||March 19||2012||5||23-year-old Islamist terrorist and antisemitic Mohammed Merah opened fire at a Jewish day school, killing three schoolchildren and a teacher. The incident was the last of three terrorist attacks against French soldiers and Jewish civilians, occurring in an eight-day span. The shooter was later shot and killed by police after a massive three-day manhunt and a 30-hour standoff at his home.|
|2014 Moscow school shooting||Moscow, Russia||February 3||2014||2||High school student Sergey Gordeyev, armed with two rifles, forced his way past a security guard, took hostages, and killed his geography teacher. He then killed a police officer and wounded another who arrived at the scene. He later released the hostages and was captured by the police after his father came to the school.|
The following is a list of incidents of shootings that occurred in South American schools.
|Islas Malvinas School shooting||Carmen de Patagones, Argentina||September 28, 2004||4||Four students killed and five wounded by a 15-year-old student in a town 620 miles south of Buenos Aires.|
|Realengo massacre||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil||April 7, 2011||13||A former student (23) fatally shot 12 people inside the school and committed suicide after being shot down by a policeman.|
The following is a list of incidents of shootings that occurred in schools in the continent of Asia.
|Ma'alot massacre||Ma'alot, Israel||May 15, 1974||25||The Ma'alot massacre was a terrorist attack carried out by the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine at the Netiv Meir elementary school in the town of Ma'alot. It included a two-day hostage-taking of 115 people which ended in the deaths of over 25 hostages.|
|Sanaa massacre||Sana'a, Yemen||March 30, 1997||8||The Sanaa massacre was a school massacre that occurred in Sana'a, Yemen, on March 30, 1997. Mohammad Ahman al-Naziri, 48, attacked hundreds of pupils at two schools, killing six children and two adults with an assault rifle. Naziri, whose five children attended the Tala'i school, alleged that one of his daughters had been raped by the school administrator. No evidence was found of this. Naziri was sentenced to death the next day and executed on April 5, 1997|
|University of the Philippines shooting||Quezon City, Philippines||February 19, 1999||1||A student was shot dead by a fraternity member after being mistaken for a member of the rival fraternity.|
|Longzhou County Middle School shooting||Longzhou County, China||October 19, 1999||1||After spending the afternoon drinking, school guard Liang Yongcheng walked into a students' dormitory at a middle school in Longzhou county and threatened to kill everybody who tried to stop him. He eventually committed suicide, but not before shooting a teacher and six students with a hunting rifle.|
|Number 34 Middle School||Lanzhou, China||September 26, 2002||2||Yang Zhengming, who worked as a mini-bus driver for Number 34 Middle School in Lanzhou, killed a teacher and wounded two others at the school with a hunting rifle, one of the wounded being his former girlfriend. Police finally shot him dead after negotiating with him for two hours while he was standing on the roof and threatened to commit suicide.|
|Pak Phanang school shooting||Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand||June 6, 2003||2||17-year-old Anatcha Boonkwan killed two, injured four of his fellow students after losing a fist-fight with one of his classmates.|
|Niutoushan Primary School shooting||Guangde County, China||October 5, 2005||0||18 people, among them 16 children, were injured when Liu Shibing shot them with six home-made guns at Niutoushan Primary School in Guangde.|
|Beirut Arab University shooting||Beirut, Lebanon||January 25, 2007||4||Four people were shot dead in clashes between pro- and anti-government activists on Thursday and about 200 were hurt in the violence that flared after a scuffle between students at a Beirut university. The opposition accused the government camp of starting the riots and the four dead included two Hezbollah students, who were fired at from rooftops.|
|Euro International school shooting||Gurgaon, India||December 12, 2007||1||A shooting occurred at Euro International, a private secondary school in Gurgaon, Haryana, India. The gunmen were students 14-year-old Akash Yadav and 13-year-old Vikas Yadav, who shot and killed a 14-year-old student.|
|Mercaz HaRav shooting||Jerusalem, Israel||March 6, 2008||9||Alaa Abu Dhein, an Israeli Arabic yeshiva bus driver, entered the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva with guns blazing, killing eight and wounding seven, before being shot dead himself by a part-time student. This incident, as do many massacres in the Levant, soon took on racial and religious overtones, pitting Palestinians and Israeli Arabs against Jews.|
|Azerbaijan State Oil Academy shooting||Baku, Azerbaijan||April 30, 2009||13||29-year-old Farda Gadirov opened fire with a Makarov PM semi-automatic pistol inside the school building of Azerbaijan State Oil Academy, killing 12 people, and wounding 13 others. He committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.|
|Xuwen school shooting||Xuwen, Guangdong, China||October 27, 2011||1||A 16-year-old student was shot and killed at the entrance gate of a public school.|
The following is a list of incidents of shootings that occurred in Oceanic region.
|Waikino Schoolhouse shooting||New Zealand||October 19, 1923||2||Two children killed and nine wounded, including the headmaster, by John Higgins. This is the first and only school shooting to occur in New Zealand.|
|Orara High School||Coffs Harbour, Australia||June 19, 1991||0||A student brought a rifle to school injuring 2 teachers and 1 student. The shooter was tackled to the ground by fellow students. This was the first known school shooting to occur in Australia.|
|La Trobe University shooting||Melbourne, Australia||August 3, 1999||1||A student opened fire in a La Trobe University campus restaurant that he used to be employed by, killing the restaurant's manager. Other patrons were injured.|
|Monash University shooting||Melbourne, Australia||October 21, 2002||2||The Monash University shooting refers to a shooting in which a student shot his classmates and teacher, killing two and injuring five. It took place at Monash University in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, on October 21, 2002.|
|Tomaree High School||Salamander Bay, Australia||April 3, 2003||0||The shooter threw petrol bombs before opening fire, seriously wounding 2 students.|
|Modbury High School||Adelaide, Australia||May 7, 2012||0||A Year eight student took a revolver on school grounds, firing shots, nobody was injured.|
The following is a list of incidents of shootings that occurred in schools in the continent of Africa.
|Maiduguri school shooting||Maiduguri, Nigeria||June 18, 2013||9||Nigeria militants killed nine schoolchildren at a school in Maiduguri.|
|Yobe State school shooting||Mamudo, Nigeria||July 6, 2013||42|
School shootings and other mass killings have had a major political impact. One organization that has proposed possible solutions to school shootings is the National Rifle Association (NRA). One possible solution they have proposed is to allow teachers to carry weapons on school grounds as a means of protecting themselves and others. So far, ten states have already introduced legislation to allow weapons on school property with eighteen states already allowing guns to be carried on school grounds, but not without constraints. Most states also require the gun carriers to receive advance permission from the districts' superintendents or trustees. "In New York State, written permission from the school is required in order to carry a firearm on school grounds."
Due to the political impact, this has spurred some to press for more stringent gun control laws. In the United States, the National Rifle Association is opposed to such laws, and some groups have called for fewer gun control laws, citing cases of armed students ending shootings and halting further loss of life, and claiming that the prohibitions against carrying a gun in schools do not deter the gunmen.[better source needed] One such example is the Mercaz HaRav Massacre, where the attacker was not stopped by police but rather a student, Yitzhak Dadon, who stopped the attacker by shooting him with his personal firearm which he lawfully carried concealed. At a Virginia law school, there is a disputed claim that three students retrieved pistols from their cars and stopped the attacker without firing a shot. Also, at a Mississippi high school, the Vice Principal retrieved a firearm from his vehicle and then eventually stopped the attacker as he was driving away from the school. In other cases, such as shootings at Columbine and Red Lake High Schools, the presence of an armed police officer did little to nothing to prevent the killings.
The Gun-Free Schools Act was passed in 1994 in response to gun related violence in schools, as a result to that a lot of school system started adopting the Zero-Tolerance Law. The Gun-Free school act required people to be expelled from the school for a year. By the year of 1997 the Zero-Tolerance for any type of weapon was implemented by more than 90 percent of U.S public schools.
Police response and countermeasures
Analysis of the Columbine school shooting and other incidents where first responders waited for backup has resulted in changed recommendations regarding what bystanders and first responders should do. An analysis of 84 mass shooting cases in the US from 2000 to 2010 found that the average response time by police was 3 minutes. In most instances that exceeds the time the shooter is engaged in killing. While immediate action may be extremely dangerous, it may save lives which would be lost if people involved in the situation remain passive, or a police response is delayed until overwhelming force can be deployed. It is recommended that civilians involved in the incident take active steps to flee, hide, or fight the shooter and that individual law enforcement officers present or first arriving at the scene attempt immediately to engage the shooter. In many instances immediate action by civilians or law enforcement has saved lives.
Due to various school shootings, there has been considerable policy discussion about how to help prevent school and other types of mass shootings. One suggestion that has come up is the idea to allow firearms in the classroom. "Since the issue of arming teachers is a relatively new topic, it has received little empirical study. Therefore, most of the literature does not come from peer reviewed sources but rather published news reports. In addition, most of these reports are not objective and clearly appear to support a specific side of the debate." So far, data has been inconclusive as to whether or not arming teachers would have any sort of benefit for schools. For years, some areas in the US have allowed "armed classrooms" to deter (or truncate) future attacks by changing helpless victims into armed defenders. Advocates of arming teachers claim that it will reduce fatalities in school shootings, but many others disagree.
Many teachers have had their concerns with the idea of armed classrooms. "One teacher stated that although she is pro-gun, she does not feel as though she could maintain gun safety on school grounds (Reuters, 2012). Teachers expressed the fear that bigger students could overpower them, take the weapon, and then use it against the teacher or other students." Some members of the armed forces have also had concerns with armed classrooms. Police forces in Texas brought up the potential for teachers to leave a gun where a student could retrieve and use it. "They are further concerned that if every teacher had a gun, there would be an unnecessarily large number of guns in schools (even including elementary schools). This large number of guns could lead to accidental shootings, especially those involving younger children who do not understand what guns do."
In a 2013 research report published by the Center for Homicide Research, they find that many also reject the idea of having armed classrooms due to what is termed the "weapons effect," which is the phenomenon in which simply being in the presence of a weapon can increase feelings of aggression. "In Berkowitz & LaPage's (1967) examination of this effect, students who were in the presence of a gun reported higher levels of aggressive feelings towards other students and gave more violent evaluations of other students' performance on a simple task in the form of electric shocks. This finding points to possible negative outcomes for students exposed to guns in the classroom (Simons & Turner, 1974; Turner & Simons, 1976)." 
In 2008, Harrold Independent School District in Texas became the first public school district in the U.S. to allow teachers with state-issued firearm-carry permits to carry their arms in the classroom; special additional training and ricochet-resistant ammunition were required for participating teachers. Students at the University of Utah have been allowed to carry concealed pistols (so long as they possess the appropriate state license) since a State Supreme Court decision in 2006. In addition to Utah, Wisconsin and Mississippi each have legislation that allow students, faculty and employees with the proper permit, to carry concealed weapons on their public university's campuses. Colorado and Oregon state courts have ruled in favor of Campus Carry laws by denying University's proposals to ban guns on campus. Ruling that the UC Board of Regents and the Oregon University System did not have the authority to ban weapons on campus. A selective ban was then re-instated, wherein Oregon state universities enacted a ban on guns in school building and sporting events or by anyone contracted with the university in question. A commentary in the conservative National Review Online argues that the armed school approach for preventing school attacks, while new in the US, has been used successfully for many years in Israel and Thailand. Teachers and school officials in Israel are allowed and encouraged to carry firearms if they have former military experience in the IDF, which almost all do. Statistics on what percentage of teachers are actually armed are unavailable and in Israel, for example, the intent is to counter politically motivated terrorist attacks on high value, soft targets, not personal defense against, or protection from, unbalanced individual students.
The National Rifle Association has explicitly called for placing armed guards in all American schools. While Steven Strauss, a faculty member at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, offered a preliminary calculation that placing armed guards in every American school might cost as much as USD 15 billion/year, and perhaps only save 10 lives per year (at a cost of $1.5 billion/life saved).
There is a social stigma that school shootings are directly associated with mental illness; however, this is the exception rather than the norm. Only about 4% of all gun violence crimes are committed by the mentally ill. It is more so that the media has exploited when a shooter has mental illness, as if this is the sole cause of their actions. It can indeed be a cause, and does occasionally have a great deal to do with why these people committed such heinous crimes, but it is rarely the standalone reason. There is no illness that is common among all the perpetrators of these crimes; therefore, it cannot be generalized that mental illness leads to mass shootings. The exploitation in the media leads to a negative connotation of mental illness, which can cause people to not want to seek treatment. This furthers the stigma against people with mental illness. People have a tendency to attribute the cause of school shootings on the behavior of the person rather than the environment, which is known as the fundamental attribution error. It is most likely a combination of both, because behavior does play a huge role in the people who commit these crimes, but it also stems from cultural issues. It also has to do with the accessibility of guns or violent culture, however this would require change on an entire nation's part rather than just blaming it on a person's mental illness, so people often tend to lean towards the latter.
McGinty and colleagues conducted a study to show that people tend to associate the violence of these shootings with mental illness, while ignoring the fact that there are usually other factors that are more pressing. Nearly 2,000 participants read a news piece on a shooting in which the shooter is diagnosed as having a mental illness and who used high capacity magazines. One group read an article that presented only the facts of the case. A different group read an article about the same shooting, but in it the author advocated for gun restrictions for people with mental illness. Another group read about the shooting in an article that suggested the proposal to ban large-capacity magazines, which acted to advocate that shootings could stem from a societal problem rather than an individual problem. The control group did not read anything. Participants were then all asked to fill out a questionnaire asking about their views on gun control and whether they thought there should be restrictions on high capacity magazines. 71% of the control group thought that gun restrictions should be applied to people with mental illness, and nearly 80% of participants who read the articles agreed. Despite the fact that the article exposed the readers to both the mental illness of the shooter, and the fact that the shooter used high-capacity magazines, participants advocated more for gun restrictions on people with mental illness rather than bans on high-capacity magazines. This suggests that people believe mental illness is the culprit for school shootings in lieu of the accessibility of guns or other environmental factors. This causes people to associate mental illness with violence, which is not only a false generalization, but it also does nothing to solve the problem at hand. It was shown that people who have a mental illness are six times more likely to be the victim of a homicide than a person without a mental illness, but this is not typically broadcast in the media.
- List of school-related attacks
- Adam Lanza
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
- Campus carry in the United States
- Chencholai bombing, Sri Lanka
- Columbine High School massacre
- Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Incendiary device
- Gun culture
- Jeff Weise
- Mass murder
- Nagerkovil school bombing, Sri Lanka
- Red Lake massacre
- Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting
- School bullying
- School violence
- Seung-Hui Cho
- Social rejection
- Suicide bombing
- Suicide by cop
- Virginia Tech massacre
- Youth subculture
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