School Shooting Trends Once Again Rising: After Pandemic Lull, In-Person Classes Bring Change

Lana Giles, Staff Writer

The following story was written before the school shooting that took place in Michigan on November 30, 2021.

In the U.S., there were 2,100 mass shootings between 2013 and 2019, with 135 shootings occurring in Texas during the time period, according to the World Population Review. At least 101 incidents of school shootings have occured in the U.S. during the 2021 school year, resulting in 56 injuries and 21 deaths, according to Everytown, which is the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country.

LASA school resource officer Christopher Roddy works on campus and is well aware of the threat of school shootings. He says that school shootings take on different meanings depending on the situation at hand. 

“A school shooting, at least for our working definition, would be more of something that happens at school that involves a firearm and an active student or former student, and its targets are going to be teachers, staff, or students at that school, generally during school hours,” Roddy said.

For junior Sophia Roberts, she recognizes that school shootings  are events that could potentially impact her and her family. She recalls one shooting in particular that stood out and emotionally shook her and made her consider what needed to change in terms of school safety. The Santa Fe school shooting fatally wounded 10 people, and wounded 13 others, which Roberts claims opened her eyes to the potential threat of a school shooting.

“The shooting that took place in Santa Fe, Texas in 2018 shocked me when I heard and I remember how awful I felt after hearing about all of the victims,” Roberts said. “It was like it suddenly hit me that a shooting could take place at any school at any time. For a long time I couldn’t help but be scared that my school would be next.”

To ensure the safety and comfortability of people regarding the threat of school shootings, organizations such as Evertown provide evidence based solutions on gun violence across the country. Founder and director of Lock Arms For Life, Leesa Ross, says the organization teaches gun owners on how to properly store and handle guns. Through Lock Arms For Life, Ross says that she wants to educate gun owners and community members about safe gun practices and storage to save lives.

“Safe practices would be things like knowing what your target is,” Ross said. “Beyond that, never pointing the gun at anybody. Never put your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. And of course, safe storage means that your gun is to be locked into a safe, the most safest way to do it is locked, unloaded, and with the ammunition stored separately.”

As part of her safe gun ownership education, Ross emphasized the difference between hiding a gun and securing a gun. She said the difference affects the safety of yourself, your surroundings, and others. 

“You can have a child that’s possibly looking for Christmas presents or birthday presents going through the house, and there’s an unsecured gun laying around for them,” Ross said. “A two year old has the strength to pull a trigger.”

According to Ross, gun deaths are something that will unfortunately never be eliminated. However, she says that the most effective path to preventing gun death is spreading awareness about safe gun policies. 

“We are not going to eliminate gun deaths, we’re going to reduce them,” Ross said. “Safe storage is your low hanging fruit, it’s the easiest step you can take to reduce gun tragedies. And it’s the first step you should always take.”

In preparation for an event in which your personal safety is affected, Roddy says that it’s important to know beforehand what plan you want to carry out. He added that having a plan of action aids a real life situation that could potentially occur.  

Educating yourself on what the policies are by taking a moment to really listen and participate when we have drills,” Roddy said. “Whatever the drills may be, those are great functional exercises to ensure that every student understands what’s going to be expected of them.”

Other than drills, Roberts says that she doesn’t discuss school shootings in schools frequently. But following incidents that are close to home, like the October shooting in Arlington, it would be beneficial for discussions to arise about school shootings, Roberts says. 

Teachers don’t really tend to discuss school shootings, but if they do they usually don’t go into too much detail and give us the space to think about it on our own time,” Roberts said. “I feel like talking about it could help to make people less scared or worried about something like that happening at our school.”

Ross emphasizes the importance of education in gun safety. If more awareness is spread about how to properly handle guns, the safer life will be for many, according to Ross. 

“Eventually, some of the people that you hang around with will be the next future gun owners, some of them already are,” Ross said. “So the more we can share this message, the more lives we can save.”