Hallway with lots of doors open

Gun violence has become an epidemic in the U.S., with shootings becoming so frequent in the news that many people have become desensitized to them. Over the last few years, some of the most shocking shootings have happened in public schools, causing shock and fear in students, administrators, and parents.

Although there are several reasons behind these shootings, such as lax gun control laws, sexism, bullying, and feelings of entitlement, schools are now looking for ways to prevent these tragedies from occurring in their schools.

Gun Violence in Schools

In the world’s most developed countries, 80 percent of all deaths related to firearms occur in the U.S., according to statistics presented by Regis College. Gun violence is considered a public health issue in the country, where shootings are a leading cause of premature death in the general population. The U.S. also has some of the most laidback gun laws, which is a common reason attributed to the high levels of gun violence.

In 2018 alone, there were 82 school shootings in the U.S., which is the largest number of school shootings since 1972. The large majority of these shootings were conducted by male students who were current attendees of the school, and they often targeted specific students. Although hundreds of students died at the hands of gun violence every year, stricter gun control laws have not yet been passed.

One of the most horrific shootings of the last few years occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, which was the fourth-deadliest shooting in the U.S. committed by a single person. The shooter killed 20 children between the ages of six and seven and six adult staff members before taking his own life. The gun used in this mass shooting belonged to his mother, who he shot and killed before going to the elementary school that day.


This massacre shocked the country because of the number of lives lost, particularly the loss of children at an elementary school. However, shootings most commonly occur at high schools and universities, where students at the school make the decision to harm their peers. The largest school shooting to occur in the U.S. was the Virginia Tech shooting, where 33 individuals were killed.


The motivation behind these shootings often remains unclear, which leaves many people wondering how to solve the problem. Students across the country have protested for stricter  gun control laws, with many students claiming to be distracted in school by the fear of a potential shooting. Although there has not been decisive federal action taken to prevent school shootings, schools are now taking action to keep their students safe.

Precautions to Prevent Gun Violence

Some of these actions include preventative measures, like installing cameras throughout the halls and implementing metal detectors at school entrances to prevent guns from entering the school. After a school shooting at a high school in Texas that killed 10, even more schools have begun to search for ways to prevent being the next victim. Schools have spent billions of dollars to install detectors that will keep guns out of their district.


This does indeed create an additional obstacle for students to overcome before attempting a shooting, and security measures give students and teachers some peace of mind by knowing that they are less likely to experience gun violence during a school day. Security metal detectors come in different shapes and sizes that can make them easy to implement at various entrances, which has made them a good option for schools.


Another option that schools are considering is implementing more preventative care into their curriculum by keeping trained counselors on hand. According to the ACA Knowledge Center article, “School Shooting and Student Mental Health: Role of the School Counselor in Mitigating Violence”:


School counselors cannot regulate the behaviors and choices of students, but they can implement interventions for students struggling with anger issues and grief, and those who display weak coping skills in order to provide them with techniques and strategies to deal with their emotions in a healthier manner rather than acting out in aggressive or violent ways.


Data from the Safe Schools Initiative Report mentioned in this article reported that:


  • 78 percent of attackers had a history of suicidal ideations or attempts before the attack
  • 61 percent experienced symptoms of extreme depression or desperation prior to an attack
  • 71 percent of the attackers were victims of bullying, and 87 percent of these left behind evidence that they were victims of severe bullying


By helping students recognize and talk about signs that they may be considering violence against their classmates, administrators are able to give their students the care they need to handle their emotions without gun violence.


Across the nation, people have been protesting for stricter gun control, as research into the ways shooters have acquired their weapons has been very telling. Those who commit shootings often take guns from their families or even purchase them legally, sometimes in ways that make it seem obvious they had violent intentions. Unfortunately, the current administration prevents stricter gun control measures from being taken.


Mass shootings are shocking, especially in schools, where young learners must feel secure. These are supposed to be safe areas, where students and educators can feel safe while they complete their studies. The current epidemic of gun violence, when viewed in a broader context including faculty negligence, bullying, and other potential weapons at school, can leave parents and students themselves asking a fundamental question: Are our children truly safe at school?


We can’t expect the educational system to succeed with these fears lingering in the minds of the public. The gun violence occurring in schools over the last few years has been tragic for students, their families and the nation. While preventative measures can help decrease the risk at schools, it’s clear that changes need to be made at the federal level to keep students safe in the U.S.