Last year marked the worst year for gun violence in schools nationwide, according to the K-12 School Shooting Database Project, a new, open resource designed, in part, to help administrators, law enforcement and government officials develop school safety plans. In contrast, District schools have not experienced a gun violence incident since 2004. The database developers at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) purposefully defined “gun violence” broadly, to include "each and every instance a gun is brandished, is fired, or a bullet hits school property for any reason regardless of the number of victims, time of day, or day of week.” It also includes planned attacks, accidental incidents, domestic violence and gang-related cases.
The database, which is updated daily and tracks incidents back to 1970, recorded 94 incidents in 2018, resulting in 55 deaths—both victims and attackers. The second most deadly year recorded was 1993, with 40 deaths.
The data suggests active shooter assailants are commonly motivated to take violent action due to a perceived or real grievance. Most active shooters are male assailants between the age of 16 and 17, but female offenders also have been recorded in the United States.
According to the database, the District only experienced three cases of school gun violence dating back to 2003—two gang-related events—and 2004—an escalation of a dispute. In the past decade, nine incidents have occurred in Maryland and eight in Virginia. In 2018 alone, a total of eight incidents took place in Maryland and Virginia.