A Timeline of School Shootings Since Columbine
Since the Columbine massacre, there have been a total of 304 fatal school shootings and counting. We have charted the frequency and severity of this phenomenon in our timeline of school shootings in the U.S below.
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On April 20, 1999, an episode of extreme violence in a suburban Denver community shocked the United States, causing 15 fatalities1 (12 students, one teacher, and two perpetrators) and 21 injuries within a span of about an hour with guns, ammunition, and homemade bombs. While this was not the first instance of a school shooting by any means, nor even the deadliest school shooting at the time, it got a great deal of media coverage. The media reaction was intense, creating a blame frenzy that demonized everything from video games like Doom to music artists like Marilyn Manson to films like Natural Born Killers. Despite these pieces of media becoming outdated in the intervening decades, plus releases of several documentaries about Columbine and massive school safety training efforts for both students and teachers,2 the problem of school shootings has only grown more prominent over the years.
It’s become such a frequent problem that the news coverage of these events has fundamentally changed, with the Columbine massacre getting months of press and current events only getting a fraction of Columbine’s coverage. Some, like the Santa Fe shooting, which had ten fatalities, have gotten less attention due to the fact that other shootings, like the Parkland shooting, which had 17 fatalities, dwarf them. Learn where murder is most common in U.S cities, or where guns are the most popular.
Are we numb to it all? How many school shootings have there been since Columbine, and how many of them have escaped our notice?
Setting politics, gun rights, media blame, and coverage analyses aside, let’s look at the history of school shootings along one mass shooting timeline to get a better idea of the scale of the problem. We’ve compiled a list of school shootings since Columbine to help
How Many School Shootings Since Columbine Have There Been?
There have been 229 U.S. school shootings since the Columbine massacre in 1999, not including misfires or instances in which a shooter was stopped before inflicting deaths or injuries. Read more about other city crimes involving guns.
Here are some of the latest school shooting statistics:
- Since Columbine, there have been 231 school shootings, not including misfires and stopped attempts. Out of these shootings, six have caused over 10 fatalities each.
- In the same time period, 304 people have died as the result of school shootings, which includes perpetrators.
- Along with fatalities, an additional 485 people have been injured from on-campus shootings since Columbine.
- In 2018 alone, there were 35 mass school shootings.
- Since 1999, there have been 10 school shootings at elementary school specifically.
In terms of fatalities, the worst school shootings in America are:
- Virginia Tech massacre
- Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting: This shooting affected 20 young children.
- Parkland, Florida shooting: Parkland resulted in a ton of youth advocacy for better gun control legislation.
- Red Lake shooting
- Sante Fe High School shooting
- Umpqua Community College shooting
Before Columbine, there was also the University of Texas shooting,3 which resulted in 18 fatalities but was widely regarded as one sniper gone awry.
We have seen an increase in the number of fatalities for school shootings. About 10 years ago, the Virginia Tech shooting became the deadliest mass shooting in America of any kind. That title has since been dwarfed by the Las Vegas shooting and the Orlando nightclub shooting, both of which happened outside of schools. These attacks are unnerving due to the fact that they are so recent and so bloody, showing the potential for damage unthinkable in a school setting. But these events have watered down our reactions to school shootings; while Columbine led to a shocking 15 deaths, Las Vegas led to an unimaginable 59.
There’s a catch to how we look at the data about school shootings. If we focus solely on major school shootings by year or on a list of school massacres with higher numbers of deaths, we miss the bigger picture. That means missing the thwarted attempts, the one-off murders, and the high frequency of smaller events between the massacres with increasingly higher death counts. We miss situations like the school attack in East Greenbush, New York, which only resulted in one injury but had the potential to kill many more if it wasn’t thwarted. The student perpetrator has since gone on to praise both Parkland student activists and the teacher who tackled him to the ground, saying he is “a hero who I owe my life to.” That was a near-miss that could have been much worse, but those near-misses also need to be a part of the conversation about guns and schools.
Our list of school shootings in the United States should hopefully leave an impression of just how many small events resulting in unnecessary deaths have happened with very little notice. Hopefully, the list of school shootings in America will show a decrease in fatalities over time.
CNN. (2020). Columbine High School Shootings Fast Facts.
Education Week. (2019). ‘I Felt More Traumatized Than Trained': Active-Shooter Drills Take Toll on Teachers.
NPR. (2017). ‘Tower' Pays Tribute To A 1966 Campus Shooting That Was ‘Pushed Aside'.