School Climate & Safety Interactive

School Shootings This Year: How Many and Where

Education Week’s 2021 School Shooting Tracker
March 01, 2021 | Updated: April 15, 2021 3 min read

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 62 shootings 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.

Latest Situation

On April 12, police officers responded to reports of a possible gunman at a Knoxville, Tenn., high school. After a struggle, shots were fired. A student was killed and a police officer was wounded. In light of updated information about the shooting from authorities released on April 14, we have removed the incident and victim from our count in this school shooting tracker. We will continue to follow this situation and update this page if warranted. 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.

See Also

Sign indicating school zone.
iStock/Getty

Reporting & Analysis: Lesli Maxwell, Holly Peele, Denisa R. Superville

Contributor: Stephen Sawchuk

Design & Visualization: Stacey Decker, Hyon-Young Kim

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