School shootings—terrifying to students, educators, parents, and communities—always reignite polarizing debates about gun rights and school safety. To bring context to these debates, Education Week journalists began tracking shootings on K-12 school property that resulted in firearm-related injuries or deaths.
There have been 8 school shootings this year, 67 since 2018. The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have interrupted the trend line. The 2020 figure, with 10 shootings, was significantly lower than 2019, with 25 shootings and 2018 with 24.
That fall off in numbers is probably due to the shift to remote learning for nearly all schools for part or all of 2020. But those using this data should note that it should not be interpreted to mean that schools were “safer.” Rather, the definition of school safety has shifted as schooling entered the home in a way it never had before.
Here’s a good parallel: Referrals to child protective services agencies fell in 2020 but that does not mean fewer children were being hurt; it reflects that schools are a main locus for reporting potential abuse. Similarly, we do not know whether, despite our 2020 school shooting figures, some students and staff were potentially more at risk of gun violence during the pandemic: Tracking off-campus shootings was beyond the scope of this project. (Schools, in general, remain among the safest places for children to be and shootings in schools are relatively rare.)
In 2021, we continue this heartbreaking, but important work. More information about this tracker and our methodology is below.
On June 9, a student was injured by a stray bullet in a Houston high school parking lot after people in two vehicles exchanged gunfire. Read more.
Injuries & Deaths
Where the Shootings Happened
Size of the dots correlates to the number of victims. Click on each dot for more information.
About the Shootings
About This Tracker
In the emotionally charged aftermath of school shootings, politicians, activists, news media, and ordinary citizens often cite statistics that can present a distorted view of how many of these incidents occur. Those statistics are used to fuel ongoing debates about gun control, arming teachers, and school security.
With this tracker, Education Week looks to provide a clear accounting of K-12 school shootings. There is no single right way of calculating numbers like this, and the human toll in the immediate aftermath and long term are impossible to measure. We hope only to provide reliable information to help inform discussions, debates, and paths forward until such reports are deemed unnecessary.
This page refers to incidents:
- where a firearm was discharged
- where any individual, other than the suspect or perpetrator, has a bullet wound resulting from the incident
- that happen on K-12 school property or on a school bus
- that occur while school is in session or during a school-sponsored event
Injuries include those reported by police and news media. They may be major or minor. While we only track incidents resulting in at least one bullet wound, total injuries are not necessarily the result of gunfire. The total count of those killed or injured does not include the suspect or perpetrator.
We will not track incidents in which the only shots fired were from an individual authorized to carry a gun, such as a school resource officer, and who did so in their official capacity. The numbers of incidents and victims reported in this tracker do not include suicides or self-inflicted injuries. While suicides and attempted suicides are serious issues of health and safety, many of the critical questions and debates that those incidents raise for educators and the broader public are distinct from those generated by school shootings.
In addition to our own reporting, we rely on local news outlets, school and district websites, news alerts via online search engines, the Gun Violence Archive, and the Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s Naval Postgraduate School’s K-12 School Shooting database.
Reporting & Analysis: Lesli Maxwell, Holly Peele, Denisa R. Superville
Contributor: Stephen Sawchuk
Design & Visualization: Stacey Decker, Hyon-Young Kim