As school shootings become more common in the U.S., they’re happening less often in states with mandatory background checks on gun and ammunition purchases, a recent study suggests.
While rare, these shootings are now happening more than once a week compared with less than once a year a generation ago, researchers report in the journal Injury Prevention. “Overall, there is a huge leap in recent incidence of school shootings,” said lead study author Dr. Bindu Kalesan, a researcher at Boston University. “Too many guns available easily may be one of the factors, but there may be several other social factors as well.” Gun violence kills roughly 33,000 people and injures another 81,000 every year in the U.S, the study authors write. The Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in 2012, where 20 children and 6 staff were shot dead by a lone gunman, prompted an intense national debate about the factors that contribute to gun violence and the best prevention approaches. To assess how factors like mandatory background checks passed by U.S. states have influenced school shooting rates, researchers analyzed media coverage of incidents from 2013 through 2015. Among other things, researchers looked for the presence or absence of mandatory background checks for all gun and ammunition purchases; the extent of gun ownership; mental health expenditure per capita; spending on public school education for kindergarten through high school; and the proportion of people living in towns and cities.