What the States With the Most School Shootings Have in Common

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Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images

In addition to the tragic loss of human life that America’s rash of school shootings produces, there’s also a loss of hope, a sense of learned helplessness that there’s little to be done about preventing them from happening.

But according to a study out this week in Injury Prevention assessing shootings from the last three years, there are trends in the states with the most (and least) shootings. The research team, led by Boston University epidemiologist Bindu Kalesan, counted an upward trend: 25 in 2013, 55 in 2014, and a shocking 64 in 2015.

Thirty-nine states had at least one shooting, 34 had less than ten; Florida (14), Georgia (15), North Carolina (12), Tennessee (10), and Texas (14) had the most. A diverse group of states including New York, New Jersey, West Virginia, Wyoming, and seven others didn’t have any.

The associations make public expenditures look good. As Tom Jacobs notes at Pacific Standard, states with higher spending on education and mental health showed lower shooting rates, as did states with stronger background-check gun laws and a greater concentration of people living in urban areas.

The researchers said that absent a national registry of school shootings, they had to rely on media reports to get their count — because of this and the relatively small sample size, they warn against not overinterpreting the results, especially since these are associations, not cause and effect. But really, the data speaks for itself.

What States With the Most School Shootings Have in Common