Why Do Mass Shootings Keep Happening in U.S. Schools?


The United States is the country with by far the largest number of school shootings per capita in the world. Since the year 2000, we’ve seen more than 180 incidents with more than 200 dead, and at least as many injured in these tragic circumstances. And the problem does seem to be getting worse. In 2018 so far, there has already been 17 mass shootings in various states and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop anytime soon.

So, this is a problem that the U.S. has been struggling with for nearly two decades, and it doesn’t look like there’s much being done about it – or more likely, the measures that are being put into place aren’t as effective as they need to be. The problem with school shootings is that it is a problem that has sociological roots, and these types of problems rarely have a single cause or a single solution. Rather, there is a set of things that are responsible, and each of them must be solved in a different way if we are ever going to make any progress in this respect.

The Second Amendment

The right of the American people to keep and bear arms has been an integral part of the constitution of the United States since the introduction of the Second Amendment in 1791. Today, Americans own 48% of all the civilian-owned guns in the world. There are many arguments both for and against the Second Amendment, and the main idea behind it all is to give the people a chance to fight back against a tyrannical government. Guns are frequently used for self-defense, against trespassers and in other circumstances, albeit not always with a fatal outcome. No one can argue with how efficient this system is, but it’s rather ignorant to deny that this has nothing to do with why so many school shootings regularly happen in the U.S., while in other countries they’re either much less common or they don’t happen at all.

So what is the main difference between other countries of the world and the U.S.?

You guessed it – only we are allowed to carry guns. What’s even worse, most households will keep a firearm in an easily accessible place, which makes sense because if you need to use a gun, it should be somewhere you can reach it before a burglar reaches you. The downside of this is that the gun is then also easily accessible to an individual that could be a potential future perpetrator of a school shooting.

The data is out there if you want to look for it. According to statistics, the U.S. has the 31st highest rate of deaths due to gun violence per 100,000. However, when looking at the total number of deaths due to gun violence per year, America peaks in at around 34,000 deaths. India, which has a population more than four times that of the United States, has only 3,700 total deaths. It’s clear that the U.S. has a problem that cannot be attributed to statistics like population count.

Competition and Abuse: the High School Mentality

While owning firearms and improper gun control is a big problem when it comes to school shootings, it would also be ignorant to claim that it is the only reason behind it. There’s another very important factor that seems to be a recurring reason for a lot of gun violence in schools. It’s safe to say that the majority of the perpetrators of school shootings are teenagers that were somewhat outcasts during their time in school. Many of them were victims of some kind of bullying and underage abuse, and it doesn’t make the situation easier that mentally unstable individuals – those suffering from some kind of mental illness or simply even anxiety – are more often the victims of abuse.

And instead of taking steps to ensure that these individuals find their place in their environment rather than being shunned and rejected, the public education system often succeeds in doing the exact opposite and makes them feel even more alienated. Bullying is still common in educational institutions and has a much more profound effect on the psyche of the victim than most people are aware. The act of choosing homecoming kings and queens is another excellent example of introducing unhealthy competition into a school environment in an indirect way.

A socially rejected individual will harbor feelings of inadequacy and resentment, and coupled with mental instability this can lead to a gun violence incident over time more easily than people think. Gun violence perpetrators aren’t born, nor do they become murderers overnight. With the exception of rare psychopathic disorders, there is a whole set of unpleasant and traumatic experiences that lead a person to choose to commit such a heinous crime. It may sound cheesy and worn out, but the more we work to help these people find their place in the world, the less likely they’re going to choose to do something this horrible.

The Bottom Line

The problem of school shootings is not one that can be easily solved, nor easily diagnosed. There are many factors at play here, but the main ones are definitely the lack of gun control (due to the evidence of gun violence in other countries compared to the U.S.) and the lack of proper social inclusion in educational institutions. As long as we do our best to affect how these two social problems are treated in our individual communities, we can hope that this serious issue will start changing for the better in the future.

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