Beyond the Headlines: School Shooting Statistics 2023

21K School · Jul 6, 2023 · 7 min read

School shootings make for sensational headlines, which is why much of the discourse around them is muddied by personal interests. To know how realistic the possibility of gun violence in your school is, you have to look at the statistics. This post reveals school shooting statistics in detail, alongside what they imply and how you should process them.

What Counts as a School Shooting?

Currently, school shooting is a term used to loosely define all gun violence in and around an educational institution. The most specific definition of a school shooting is a shooting that takes place in a school during school hours. Gun violence activists are pushing to get an official definition of school shootings because of how prevalent gun violence has become in the US.

In Richneck Elementary School, there was a school shooting where a 6-year-old shot his 25-year-old teacher. This incident being the first school shooting in the US in 2023, gained a lot of media coverage. But not all school shootings get the same level of attention.

Why is it important to keep track?

It is crucial to track school shootings and reconcile them with other factors like gun laws and gun safety education because it can help solve the problem of gun violence in schools. Lawmakers can take note of what is working and what isn’t.

Statistics regarding gun violence are also important because they can help parents make crucial decisions regarding their wards’ safety. For instance, California has the most incidents of school shootings, followed by Texas. Those are two states with completely opposite gun ownership laws. 

So, while lawmakers figure out the best way to deal with the problem, the parents in those states can use statistics to choose between homeschooling, virtual education, and physical schools.

What do we know about school shootings in 2023?

In 2023, gun incidents in schools are set to exceed 400, and it seems like the projections extrapolated from past data might come true after all. With over 179 incidents declared by the K-12 School shooting tracker, which tracks the broadest set of gun incidents.

That is not to say that there have been hundreds of high school shootings in the US. Gun incidents are different from school shootings, and none of these definitions are contingent on harm. So understanding the methodology of a tracker is crucial to understanding high school shooting statistics.

The K-12 School Shooting tracker considers everything from brandishing a gun to firing it as a gun incident. This broad definition paints an alarming picture, which might be good for caution. A safer picture is painted by the NBC School Shooting Tracker, which excludes accidental discharge and incidents of shooting where one of the students is a gang member or victim.

According to NBC’s tracker, there have been 4 school shootings in 2023, with nine deaths and eight injuries. Regardless of the tracker you choose to base your idea of the 2023 gun violence trend, one thing is for sure: the year is proving to be more violent than the last one. 

Both NBC’s selective tracker and K-12’s inclusive one show that by the half-year mark, school shootings in 2023 have exceeded those of mid-2022.

Gun Violence and School Shooting Facts

The human mind cannot grasp large numbers, which is unfortunate. The high school shooting statistics are glossed over because they don’t seem grounded due to how big the numbers are. But if one were to simply see the statistics regarding gun violence in school, one would see how serious, real, and immediately concerning the issue is.

Here are some gun violence and school shooting facts to consider:

  • 12 kids die from gun violence in America every day – Just because a shooting doesn’t happen inside a school doesn’t mean that students are safe outside.
  • One in 10 victims of gun violence is student-aged – With 10% of gun violence victims being school-age children and teenagers, American parents need to be more vocal about gun culture.
  • Since 1999, 338,000 students have experienced gun violence at school – This is an alarming figure that keeps compounding.
  • 43,000 children witnessed gunfire at school in 2022 – And 2023 is set to exceed the previous year. Witnesses include those who were injured or killed.

As alarming as the gun violence statistics summaries are, gun violence trends are far more alarming.

School Shooting Statistics by Year

If you look at the high school gun violence statistics, you will notice key turning points. For instance, prior to 2017, the number of gun violence incidents fluctuated from your to year. In 2017, an unfortunate trend was set where each subsequent year of stand schooling would top the year prior to it in terms of gun violence. 

In this section, we will go over the different years that proved to be consequential in the history of gun violence in America.

  • 2023 – The highest number of gun violence incidents in school in a 6-month period. 179 incidents in under 6 months.
  • 2022 – The highest number of school shootings and gun violence ever – 304 incidents
  • 2021 – The greatest increase in school-related gun violence compared to the prior year. 250 incidents, up from 115 in 2020.
  • 2020 – First ever decrease in gun violence incidents in school from a prior year since 2017. A major contributor to the drop was the COVID-19 lockdown. 115 from 119 in 2019.
  • 2019 – The year in which year-on-year regular school shooting incidents started growing exponentially. 119 became an unfortunate baseline.
  • 2018 – The first time incidents of gun violence in school rose to double digits. The bar was set at 119.
  • 2017 – The beginning of a trend where each subsequent year of regular schooling brings more school shootings. 59, the lowest annual incident rate in a long time.

It seems like schools are not immune from the gun violence and culture that plagues America. The only instance of a drop in gun violence by merely 4 incidents required a nationwide remote schooling protocol. So, it seems like taking classes from home is the safest short-term solution, at least in the US.

School Shooting Statistics by Country

The instances of gun violence in other countries are infrequent and comparatively nominal. According to a compilation of gun shooting incident research done by CNN, NPR, and other credible entities, the USA has 299% more school shootings compared to the rest of the world. 

Getting updated statistics for high school shootings in every country is no easy task. But the last updated record of school shooting data reveals the following:

  • The US school shooting total has reached 300
  • Pakistan and Nigeria each have 4 recorded instances of schools shootings
  • Canada, France, and Brazil are all countries where 2 instances of school shootings have occurred.
  • Mexico has the second-highest school shooting record after the US. It has 8 documented incidents of gun violence in schools.
  • South Africa has 6 recorded instances of school-related gun violence.
  • Afghanistan has recorded 3 incidents of gun violence in its schools.
  • Countries where one school shooting has occurred include China, Russia, Germany, Hungary, Turkey, Kenya, Greece, Estonia, and Azerbaijan.

At a glance, it seems like the American gun culture is directly correlated with school shootings. But it is worth noting. But you must take into account the freedom of the press in America and the comparatively high effort that goes into documented gun violence in the country. 

In contrast, other countries might not have as many schools, news reports, and documentation campaigns.

Important findings regarding School Shooter Statistics

Large countries like Russia and China have curbed their gun violence with laws that regulate weapon possession. In America, gun ownership is a constitutionally protected right which makes tackling the gun violence issue far more complex. 

Still, citizens can take steps to make schools safer by getting informed about the issue. Below are some important findings regarding school shooters and shootings.

  • (Most) schools have a plan – According to the CDC, 96% of the schools have a plan for school shootings as of 2020. 98% of them have conducted drills to ensure that the plan is enacted if there is an active shooter.
  • Isolation can fuel aggression – American Psychological Association (APA)’s study found out that students got aggressive with K12 personnel during remote classes. The remote nature of the online classes, however, prevented the verbal abuse from getting physical.
  • Half of the shootings feature a specific target – Not even 1% of school shootings are mass shootings (0.7% are). Over 50% of school shooters commit homicide targeting one or two students.
  • Grievances are the most commonly known cause of school shootings – 43% of the school shooting plotters had grievances. A small number had issues related to school romance, but most had problems with their peers or the school staff.
  • Desire to kill (or commit suicide) is the second strongest known motivator – 15% of the plotters just wanted to kill, while 13% were suicidal. 12% took gun violence as a path to fame.


Preventative measures can range from homeschooling to active shooter drills. Which measure is adopted depends on who is adopting it and the high school shooting statistics in the region. There are multiple stakeholders in the education system. Parents have the responsibility to raise emotionally intelligent children. Teachers should report suspicious activity, and students should be kind to each other. Depending on the country, gun laws can play a major part in preventing school shootings. If you live in a country with double-digit school shooting statistics, you may want to consider online schools as a safety measure.


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