Guns in School: Juveniles and Teachers

Guns in School: Juveniles and Teachers

Lacey Nicole Wallace (Pennylvania State University – Altoona, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6246-7.ch003
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This chapter examines weapon carrying by teachers and students in K-12 schools. Most of the chapter focuses on juveniles, exploring how often juveniles bring weapons to school, the demographic characteristics these juveniles have in common, and why juveniles opt to bring weapons on school grounds. Empirical studies of these topics based on official data, victimization data, and self-report data are reviewed. Additionally, this chapter details the federal and state laws that regulate weapons on school property. Attention is also given to the recent debate over arming K-12 teachers and staff as a prevention measure. Like the discussion of juvenile gun carrying, this chapter highlights the law regulating this issue, arguments for and against such a policy, and the empirical research assessing effects.
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On October 24th, 2014, 15-year-old Jaylen Fryberg entered his school cafeteria in Marysville, Washington. After shooting five of his fellow students, killing four, Jaylen turned the gun on himself. The victims were not strangers to Jaylen. Before the shooting, he sent these students a text message asking them to meet him for lunch. Just minutes prior to the shooting, he sent a text message apology to friends and family for the actions he was about to take (Everytown Research, 2015). Not all school shootings are alike, however. On November 10, 2015, for example, another 15-year-old student walked to the front of his English classroom in Lecanto, Florida, and shot himself. Thankfully, he survived the injury (Everytown Research, 2015). While these are the sorts of incidents that frequent the evening news, they are not representative of all school gun violence, all juvenile gun violence, or juveniles who bring guns to school without using them against themselves or others.

Each year, thousands of juveniles are injured or killed by firearms. Details of these cases are collected by the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS), operated through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They are also counted through the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System – All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP), operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. According to these sources (see Table 1), 6,911 juveniles ages 18 and younger were injured by firearms in 2015, a rate of 9.38 per 100,000 juveniles in this age group (Centers for Disease Control, 2017). Nearly a quarter of these cases were unintentional injures (i.e. accidents); most were caused by the juvenile playing with a gun (Fowler, Dahlberg, Haileyesus, Gutierrez, & Bacon, 2017). In addition to these injuries, 1,458 juveniles were killed by firearms that same year. Approximately 40% of these cases were determined to be suicides (Centers for Disease Control, 2017). As shown in Table 1, firearm suicides among juveniles increased from 2007 to 2014 after a five-year decline (Fowler et al., 2017).

Table 1.
Trends in juvenile firearm injuries and deaths, 2003-2015
YearJuveniles injured by firearms
(rate per 100,000 juveniles ages 0 to 17)
Juveniles killed by firearms, all causes
(rate per 100,000 juveniles ages 0 to 17)
Juvenile firearm suicides (rate per 100,000 juveniles ages 0 to 17)
20046,992 (9.54)1,385 (1.88)384 (0.52)
20058,729 (11.87)1,490 (2.02)412 (0.56)
20069,551 (12.95)1,593 (2.15)371 (0.50)
20077,829 (10.58)1,520 (2.04)325 (0.44)
20089,714 (13.11)1,475 (1.98)361 (0.49)
20095,984 (8.07)1,392 (1.87)401 (0.54)
20107,351 (9.91)1,337 (1.80)375 (0.51)
20118,314 (11.25)1,311 (1.77)448 (0.61)
20125,675 (7.70)1,301 (1.77)457 (0.62)
20136,103 (8.29)1,258 (1.71)491 (0.67)
20147,537 (10.24)1,330 (1.81)532 (0.72)
20156,911 (9.38)1,458 (1.98)566 (0.77)

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017

Key Terms in this Chapter

Gang: An organized group of individuals whose actions focus on criminal activity.

Firearm: A weapon, such as a rifle or pistol, from which a projectile is fired by the force of an explosion.

Juvenile: An individual under the age of 18.

Gun Free School Zones Act: Legislation passed in 1990 that prohibits guns on school property or in nearby areas designated as school zones.

Expulsion: A type of punishment that requires juveniles to be separated from school for a specified period of time.

Gun Free Schools Act: Legislation passed in 1994 that prohibits students from bringing firearms to school and mandates expulsion for any student caught with a firearm at school.

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