School Shooting Database Reveals Alarming Trend in Post-Columbine Years

Littleton, Colorado – Twenty-five years have passed since the tragic massacre at Columbine High School. On April 20, 1999, the nation was shocked when two teenage gunmen opened fire at the school, resulting in the deaths of 12 students and a teacher before taking their own lives. This devastating event marked the beginning of a grim era of school shootings that has left many parents fearful for their children’s safety as they head to school each day.

Since that fateful day, the number of individuals killed by guns on school property has tragically risen to at least 493, according to David Riedman, the creator of the K-12 School Shooting Database. Out of these victims, at least 138 lost their lives in active shooter incidents on school grounds. However, determining the exact number of “school shootings” in the United States since Columbine proves to be a complex task, as definitions vary and data ranges from just eight to over 2,000 incidents.

The K-12 School Shooting Database adopts an inclusive definition, considering any instance where a gun is brandished, fired, or a bullet hits school property as a school shooting, regardless of the number of victims or other circumstances. By this criteria, there have been a staggering 2,032 school shootings since Columbine, with the number of incidents per year steadily increasing. In 2024 alone, there have already been 95 incidents, with a record high of 348 incidents reported last year.

Delving deeper into the data, when filtered to only include incidents where one or more victims were shot, the number of school shootings since Columbine decreases to 1,143. A disturbing revelation from the research is that at least 133 incidents involved an “active shooter,” as defined by Riedman, with 23 of these shooters being directly inspired by the Columbine tragedy.

It is worth noting that if a mass shooting is defined as an incident where at least four individuals have been shot, there have been 59 such incidents—excluding a significant majority of gunfire occurrences on school premises since Columbine. This rarity of mass shootings is crucial to consider, as pointed out by James Alan Fox, a veteran criminologist at Northeastern University, who emphasizes that these rampage attacks like Columbine are not commonplace events.

Despite the rising concerns among parents, polling data reveals a mixed sentiment regarding the ability to eliminate gun violence in the United States. A recent survey showed that more than half of Americans doubt the country’s capacity to reduce the rate of gun violence to zero, while acknowledging the challenges posed by the prevalent news coverage of school shootings and high-fatality incidents.

In light of these sobering statistics and expert insights, the conversation around school safety and gun violence prevention continues to evolve. As researchers and policymakers explore strategies to address this pressing issue, the need for enhanced reporting and intervention measures to preempt potential threats remains paramount to safeguarding our schools and communities.