Study On School Shootings: ‘Not An Epidemic’ - Schools Safer Than In 90’s

Eric Scheiner | February 28, 2018
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A Northeastern University study is claiming that schools are currently safer than they were in the 1990’s, and that school shootings are “extremely rare events.”

“The deadly school shooting this month in Parkland, Florida, has ignited national outrage and calls for action on gun reform. But while certain policies may help decrease gun violence in general, it’s unlikely that any of them will prevent mass school shootings, according to James Alan Fox, the Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law, and Public Policy at Northeastern,” News@Northeastern says.

gunsFox and doctoral student Emma Fridel found that on average, mass murders are rare events occurring between 20 and 30 times per year, and on average about one of those incidents takes place at a school.

The full report is slated to be published this June, but the University has released some excerpts:

‘Four times the number of children were killed in schools in the early 1990s than today,’ Fox said. ‘There is not an epidemic of school shootings,’ he claims, adding that more kids are killed each year from pool drownings or bicycle accidents. There are around 55 million school children in the United States, and on average over the past 25 years, about 10 students per year were killed by gunfire at school, according to Fox and Fridel’s research.

'The thing to remember is that these are extremely rare events, and no matter what you can come up with to prevent it, the shooter will have a workaround,' Fox said, adding that over the past 35 years, there have been only five cases in which someone ages 18 to 20 used an assault rifle in a mass shooting.

In Fox's opinion banning bump stocks and raising the age of purchase from 18 to 21 for certain weapons "may lead to a decrease in overall gun violence," but he doesn’t believe these measures will prevent school shootings.

The researchers claim that "increasing mental health resources for students is another strategy that might improve school safety" calling this a critical need that has been historically overlooked.

Their opinions will have to be weighed separately from their research conclusions, showing that schools are safer now. The study's conclusions may be considered surprising, given the use of data from liberal organizations Mother Jones and Everytown for Gun Safety in the research.

Fox and Fridel list that they used data collected by USA Today, the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report, Congressional Research Service, Gun Violence Archive, Stanford Geospatial Center and Stanford Libraries, Mother Jones, Everytown for Gun Safety, and a NYPD report on active shooters in their research. 


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