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Counting school shootings since 2013.

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By Nigel Chiwaya, Polly DeFrank and Jeremia Kimelman

This tracker will be a continuous effort to identify and contextualize the shots in all types of schools, from kindergarten to university, in the USA. UU

The tracker focuses on the school shootout segment where an active shooter intends to harm, injure or kill at least one student or faculty member during school or at a school event. Read the full NBC News criteria for school shootings, including the FBI definition of an active shooter, below.

Why are we doing this

Every time there is a shooting in a major school in the United States, the following national conversation immediately tells the number of similar incidents that have occurred to date that year. The chilling statistics, broadcast by radio, published on newspaper and shared on the Internet, vary according to the news organization and its definition of shooting in a school.

Several organizations and databases track firearm violence in schools, including Everytown for Gun Safety, the Washington Post school shooting database, and the US Department of Education. These editors help the public understand the effect of gun violence, although each can provide different numbers for school shootings that have occurred in a particular time period.

Dr. Daniel Webster, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Weapons and Research Policy, said part of the difficulty in studying gun violence is determining what is considered a school shooting.

"Let's say someone is shot on campus at night," Webster said. "It has nothing to do with the school day and it does not involve a student, but you can identify it in a database because the environment is a school. That makes things turbid. "

The different totals can lead to confusion about the number of school shootings. In the hours following the mbad shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018, Everytown for Gun Safety, which tracks all cases of shooting on school grounds, tweeted that it was the 18th event in 2018. The tweet was retweeted more than 800 times, prompting the Washington Post to note that only five of the 18 instances occurred during school hours and resulted in injuries.

Dr. Lacey Wallace, badistant professor of criminal justice at Penn State University, told NBC News that general definitions create inflatable totals of shots, and inflated totals lead to public fear.

"The higher the number, the more people are afraid to send their children to school," Wallace said.

"Our schools are actually quite safe, and in many cases they are safer than the surrounding communities," said Wallace.

In an effort to be more consistent and to more closely align our statistics with our reports, NBC News teams collaborated, studied the databases and existing school shooting sources and created criteria for counting school shots for their Use in the newsrooms of the company.

How NBC News tells a school shooting

The federal Safe Schools Initiative was formed after the 1999 mbadacre at Columbine High School to help determine how to prevent future attacks. His report looks at "incidents of directed violence" in school settings … where the school was deliberately selected.

In an effort to capture the terror of an active shooter entering a school, NBC News' s shot crawler criteria focus on the type of incidents described in the School Safety Initiative report.

The NBC News School's tracker includes shots that meet these criteria:

  1. One or more active shooters. The FBI defines an active shooter as an individual involved in attempting to kill people in a confined space or in a populated area.

  2. On school property during school hours and when students arrive or leave, or at school-approved or school-sponsored events. The "schools" are defined as from kindergartens to schools, universities and technical schools.

  3. There is an intention to harm students or teachers with a weapon.

  4. There is injury or death of at least one person other than the shooter.

And while all cases of violence with firearms at school are serious and can cause trauma and suffering to children and adults who experience them, to capture the subset of violence with firearms described in the Safe report School Initiative, our count excludes the following cases:

  1. Accidental discharge of a weapon at school.

  2. Suicide by firearm at school.

  3. Isolated fights, altercations or domestic disputes, including gang violence


Our data is derived from an badysis of information from the law enforcement reports, Everytown for Gun Safety, news reports and other publicly available information. Shooting events are recorded and evaluated as new information becomes available, and are added to our published data set of school shootings when an incident is determined to meet the NBC News standard for school shootings.

Nigel Chiwaya is a data reporter for NBC News.

Polly DeFrank

Polly DeFrank is the Director of News Research / Infocenter for NBC News.

Jeremia Kimelman is an interactive graphics developer for NBC News.

Helen Kwong, Alexis Welch and Joe Murphy contributed

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