How Frequent are K-12 Shooting Incidents?


Sources: Gun Violence Archive and K-12 School Shooting Database

The frequency of K-12 school shooting incidents has been increasing drastically. A 163% increase since 2020 and 1,900% since 2010. In 2023, (at the time this article was written) there have already been more than 75 K-12 school shooting incidents.

It is important to understand the difference between an "incident" and an "active shooter situation" in these reports. Incidents become an active shooter situation "when the shooter killed and/or wounded victims, either targeted or random, within the school campus during a continuous episode of violence,"

An incident "includes when a gun is brandished, is fired, or a bullet hits school property for any reason, regardless of the number of victims, time, or day of the week." This could include gang shootings, domestic violence, shootings at sports events and afterhours school functions, suicides, fights that escalate into shootings, and accidents.

There are some discrepancies in the way the term "mass shooting" is used. In some data, a mass shooting can be any incident where 2 or more people are killed. This would not include people who are injured. is not exclusively data about K-12 schools, but it defines a mass shooting as an event where "four or more people are shot or killed in a single incident, not including the shooter."

Some media outlets tend to focus on whichever data will get the emotional response they are after. Regardless of whether the emergency event is classified as an incident or an activer shooter situation, any time a weapon is displayed, discharged on, or discharged at a school campus, adminstrators have a responsibility to take safety and security measures according to protocol. 

While school administrators are primarily concerned with school security and safety during school hours, having emergency preparedness plans in place for scenarios outside of their control are also important. For example, if shots were to be fired in a gang fight  blocks away from a school campus, a lockdown event may still be necessary to ensure the safety of staff and students.