Tarleton’s IPAC Issues Report on School Shooting Analysis


STEPHENVILLE — Students at Columbine High School in 1999 experienced the tragedy of a mass shooting on their campus that took the lives of 13 students. This not only changed the survivors, but changed the trajectory of gun violence on school campuses. 

Since then, the U.S. has recorded over 300 school shootings. Some generated much media attention, like Santa Fe, Parkland and Uvalde, while others received less. 

The Institute for Predictive Analytics in Criminal Justice (IPAC) at Tarleton State University conducted data analysis to better understand the phenomenon and perhaps offer recommendations to prevent future events. The database contains details on 324 school shootings occurring since Columbine. 

“With this level of frequency, if we’re not careful we can become complacent with gun violence on school campuses,” said IPAC founder Dr. Alex del Carmen, Associate Dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts. “The purpose of this research was partly to understand the drivers of school shootings and partly to remind the public of the frequency of these events to generate vigilance in leaders tasked with school safety.” 


  • Gender. Shooters were almost universally male. 
  • Relationship to campus. Most shooters were related to the campus where the shootings occurred (student, former student, friend of student, parent).
  • Type of shooting. By far, most shootings targeted specific individuals. Indiscriminate shootings are less likely. 
  • Interior shootings. As shootings move from exterior to interior, they become much more likely to result in casualty and death, which indicates that ingress protocols should be reviewed for improvements. 
  • Access to weapons. Most shooters were too young to legally obtain a weapon, and thus the weapon came from the shooter’s home or family.
  • Grievances. Most shooters were reacting to grievances that may have accumulated over time. School personnel should be alert to persistent bullying. Shooters often reveal intentions prior to the incident. Families often are the first to notice when a family member indicates a potential for gun violence.
  • Racial disparity. Black students are disproportionately impacted by school shootings relative to Census data. Hispanic students are slightly more likely to experience school shootings relative to Census data. 

Read the report: https://tarletonstate.us/ipac.

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