The relentless cycle of school shootings in the United States: A timeline

There is roughly one school shooting a week in the United States, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization that is pushing to limit the proliferation of firearms in the country.

Published: 19th May 2018 04:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th May 2018 04:47 AM   |  A+A-

A man hugs a woman outside the Alamo Gym where parents wait to reunite with their children following a shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, on Friday, May 18, 2018. (AP Photo)

By Agencies

SANTA FE: The United States is the only developed country in the world that suffers from a relentless cycle of school shootings, such as the rampage that took yet more lives at a Texas high school on Friday.

Ten people were killed and another 10 injured when a student armed with a shotgun and a revolver opened fire just as classes were starting at the school in Santa Fe.

There is roughly one school shooting a week in the United States, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization that is pushing to limit the proliferation of firearms in the country.

US schools have become less and less a safe havens for children, as the country grapples with an epidemic of gun violence that claims around 33,000 lives each year, and many Americans appear fatalistic.

Unless there is a high body count, most school shootings don't even make the national press. 

According to a database compiled by the Washington Post, more than 214,000 primary and secondary school students have experienced a school shooting in the United States since 1999.

At least 139 students, teachers and others have been killed over the same period.

The familiar television images of students fleeing for their lives across playing fields, or tearfully recounting their near-death experiences, prompt the inevitable same questions: Should all schools have security gates? Should teachers be armed?

Just three months ago, in February, a young man armed with a semi-automatic, assault-style weapons killed 17 people at his old high school in Florida.

That particular rampage, in a school whose surviving students spoke out movingly and articulately against gun violence, prompted a fresh movement to demand legislation that would impose stricter controls on firearms.

That led to a wave of marches across the country and overseas on March 24 that brought as many as two million people on to the streets to demand action.

The hundreds of thousands of school kids were portrayed as the "school shooting generation" or the "Columbine generation," named for the school where two students in Colorado gunned down 12 of their schoolmates and a teacher in 1999.

Yet there has been no progress towards legislation that would dent the rampant gun violence, aside from a few minor measures introduced in a handful of states. President Donald Trump himself has proposed arming teachers.

Disturbing trends
The actual definition of what constitutes a school shooting varies, hence the difference in the reported numbers of such incidents.

But the simple fact remains that there are far more of them in the United States than in the rest of the developed world, and the long-term trends are disturbing.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation carried out a study of "active shooters" between 2000 and 2013 and found that the numbers of mass shootings are on the rise nationwide.

In 70 percent of cases, the killings and injuries occur within five minutes or less, giving law enforcement a very short time to react.

And 24.4 percent of all gun rampages take place in schools or other educational establishments.

Shooters who open fire in schools or colleges are, for the most part, students or former students, as was the case in Santa Fe on Friday.

And the FBI also notes that school shootings are becoming deadlier.

Some of the more prominent attacks have had a lasting impact on the national psyche, such as Columbine in 1999, Virginia Tech in 2007 or the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012, when 20 kids aged between six and seven were shot dead by a gunman. 

Since that slaughter, emergency "active shooter" drills have been stepped up in schools to prepare students to react when a gunman attacks their classroom. 

Here's a look at some recent U.S. school shootings and some of the deadliest of years past:

— Feb. 14, 2018: Authorities say a former student killed 17 people, including 14 children and three staff members, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Nikolas Cruz, 19, faces 17 counts of first-degree murder in the attack, which sparked student walkouts throughout the country calling for tougher gun restrictions.

— Jan. 23, 2018: Two students were killed and 14 were wounded by gunfire when a student opened fire before classes began at Marshall County High School in western Kentucky, authorities said. Gabriel Ross Parker, who was 15 at the time of the attack, is charged with two counts of murder and 14 counts of assault.

— Dec. 7, 2017: Two students at Aztec High School in New Mexico were killed by a 21-year-old gunman disguised as a student. Police said the shooter later killed himself.

— Sept. 13, 2017: A 15-year-old boy was killed at Freeman High School in Rockford, Washington, and three female students were wounded when authorities say another 15-year-old boy opened fire with a handgun. A suspect was arrested.

— April 10, 2017: A gunman opened fire in the special education classroom of his estranged wife at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, California, killing her and an 8-year-old boy, and wounding another child. The gunman then fatally shot himself.

— Sept. 28, 2016: A 6-year-old boy was fatally shot on the playground of Townville Elementary School in South Carolina by a 14-year-old boy who had just killed his father, authorities said. Another child and a teacher were struck by bullets but survived. The teen was charged with murder.

— Sept 8, 2016: A 14-year-old girl died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after shooting and wounding another female student at Alpine High School in West Texas.

— Dec. 14, 2012. A 20-year-old gunman killed 20 first-grade children and six educators inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and then killed himself. He also fatally shot his mother before entering the school.

— Feb. 27, 2012: Three students were killed and two wounded in a shooting that started in a school cafeteria in Chardon, Ohio, as students waited for buses to other schools. Police charged a suspect, 17 at the time, as an adult.

— April 16, 2007: Twenty-three-year-old Seung-Hui Cho fatally shot 32 people in a dorm and a classroom at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, and then killed himself.

— April 20, 1999: Students Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, opened fire at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, killing 12 classmates and a teacher and wounding 26 others before killing themselves in the school's library.

— Dec. 1, 1997: Three students were killed and five wounded at a high school in West Paducah, Kentucky. Michael Carneal, then 14, later pleaded guilty but mentally ill to murder and is serving life in prison.

(Combining AP and AFP reports)

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