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Every Incident of Mishandled Guns in Schools

Teachers Want to Teach Big

Editor’s Note: This list is comprehensive as of November 1, 2019. We will make periodic updates to keep it up to date.

Armed adults frequently mishandle their guns in schools. Arming teachers wouldn’t decrease risk to students—it would increase their risk.

Our comprehensive analysis finds there have been more than 80 publicly-reported incidents of mishandled guns at schools in the last five years, including:

Until very recently, educators and policymakers across the country have rejected the idea of arming teachers. But last summer, President Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that the administration is considering allowing states to use federal funding to arm teachers in schools.

Arming teachers is an incredibly unpopular proposition, opposed by seven out of ten teenagers, eight out of ten teachers, and seven out of ten parents. And for good reason.

19.02 SOC School Shootings Myths-Facts report_Strong Opposition to Arming Teachers

A study published in March 2019 found “no evidence that the presence of resource officers in schools lessened the severity of school shooting incidents.” And there is no evidence that armed teachers would be any more effective. In fact, a robust body of public health research strongly suggests armed teachers would not effectively deter violence. On the contrary, they would likely increase, rather than decrease, students’ exposure to gun violence in schools.

To catalog the risk guns in schools pose to student safety, we conducted a systematic review of publicly-reported incidents involving mishandled guns on school campuses. We analyzed data from the Gun Violence Archive since 2014 (when their records begin) and independently verified each incident.

Scroll through the comprehensive list, broken down into a few general categories, to see how guns brought onto campus—in many cases for the purpose of preventing violence—can actually increase risk.

Guns left accessible to children

Sims Academy of Innovation and Technology | Winder, Georgia

September 17, 2019 — A student found a gun and bullets inside an unattended purse on a school bus. Officers determined that the purse belonged to a school bus driver employed by the school district. No shots fired. [Source]

Starkey Elementary School | Seminole, Florida

May 20, 2019 — A teacher was arrested for bringing a gun to school and keeping it in her bag. No shots fired. [Source]

Glenwood School | Princeton, West Virginia

March 28, 2019 — A substitute teacher was arrested after telling another staff member that he had a gun in his briefcase. No shots fired. [Source]

Highland Elementary School | Sparta, Ohio

Mid-March, 2019 — The District Transportation Director left her pistol in a small unlocked plastic case near her desk when she went to the restroom. The director had been trained as part of the district’s concealed carry program and allowed to have a gun on school property. Two first-graders who were left alone in the office accessed the gun. [Source]

Van Horn High School | Independence, Missouri

February 28, 2019 — A school counselor was arrested after having sexual contact with a teen. In the process of her arrest, a loaded handgun was found in her purse. No shots fired. [Source]

Kingston High School | Kingston, Michigan

January 19, 2019 — A grandfather left a handgun at a high school during a basketball tournament. A woman found the gun on the floor of the bleachers. No shots fired. [Source]

Mustang High School | Mustang, Oklahoma

January 17, 2019 — A gun was found in an unattended bag in the media center of a high school. The bag belonged to an employee of the school. No shots fired. [Source]

AW Watson Elementary School | Port Gibson, Mississippi

January 16, 2019 — A gun was found in an elementary school bathroom. No shots fired. [Source]

Babylon High School | Babylon, New York

January 8, 2019 — A school resource officer and retired police officer left an unloaded, holstered weapon on the counter of a bathroom. No shots fired. [Source]

Central Middle School | Saint Louis, Missouri

October 24, 2018 — A gun brought to a middle school school by a teacher was stolen by two students. [Source]

Anona Elementary School | Largo, Florida

October 23, 2018 — A substitute elementary school teacher was helping children do cartwheels when a gun loaded with 19 rounds of ammunition fell out of his waistband. No shots fired. [Source]

Bartlett High School | Bartlett, Illinois

October 5, 2018 — A volunteer football coach was arrested after an unloaded gun fell out of his backpack during pre-game warm-ups. The suspect was charged with carrying a concealed weapon in a prohibited area. No shots fired. [Source]

Somerset Academy Bay Elementary and Middle School | Miami, Florida

October 5, 2018 — A school security guard left a gun in the bathroom. A 5th grade student found the gun and alerted teachers right away. No shots fired. [Source]

Unnamed elementary school | Missoula, Montana

September 18, 2018 — A school resource office left her duty weapon in the faculty bathroom at an elementary school. No shots fired. [Source]

Chaboya Middle School | San Jose, California

August 29, 2018 — A teacher was arrested at school for an alleged road rage incident that escalated into strong arm robbery when he forcibly took the victim’s cellphone. During the arrest, officers found a loaded handgun in the teacher’s bag. No shots fired. [Source]

Russell Byers Charter School | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

May 23, 2018 — A middle school teacher brought a gun to school in a bag, where it was discovered by a student. No shots fired. [Source]

Harmony Elementary School | Buford, Georgia

May 16, 2018 — A substitute teacher brought an unloaded gun to school in her purse, where it was seen by several students. No shots fired. [Source]

Perryville Career and Technology Center | Perryville, Missouri

March 23, 2018 — A substitute teacher for the Perry County School District left a gun in a vehicle, it was seen by students. No shots fired. [Source]

Shepherd Middle School | Shepherd, Michigan

March 12, 2018 — An off-duty police officer left a gun on school grounds, where it was found by a student. No shots fired. [Source]

Elliott Point Elementary | Fort Walton Beach, Florida

February 5, 2018 — A school resource officer left a loaded handgun in a school restroom. No shots fired. [Source]

Harmony Learning Center | Maplewood, Minnesota

February 5, 2018 — A child pulled the trigger of a gun in an officer’s holster while the officer was visiting his classroom. No injuries. [Source]

Hardin High School | Hardin, Montana

January 26, 2018 — A student brought a gun to school, which ended up in the possession of a teacher. The teacher hid the gun in her desk overnight. No shots fired. [Source]

Louisa County High School | Mineral, Virginia

January 12, 2018 — Automotive class students found a pistol in the trunk of their teacher’s car while servicing the vehicle as part of a class project. No shots fired. [Source]

Sacred Heart School | Glyndon, Maryland

October 30, 2017 — A staff member at a K–8 school left a gun in the restroom. No shots fired. [Source]

Hamilton High School | Chandler, Arizona

September 29, 2017 — An off-duty officer left a loaded gun in a high school bathroom, where it was found by a student. No shots fired. [Source]

United Brethren in Christ Academy | Holly Hill, Florida

May 3, 2017 — A volunteer at the K–12 school left a loaded gun in the bathroom, where it was found by a student. No shots fired. [Source]

School van | High Island, Texas

May 1, 2017 — A school superintendent left a loaded gun in a school van, which was found by a student when the van was used during an athletic event. No shots fired. [Source]

Shelton Elementary School | Dallas, Georgia

March 30, 2017 — An intoxicated kindergarten teacher came to school with a loaded pistol in her purse. No shots fired. [Source]

Ringgold High School | Monongahela, Pennsylvania

October 13, 2016 — A high school student found a security guard’s loaded gun in the bathroom. No shots fired. [Source]

Cumberland Valley Christian School | Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

August 25, 2016 — A teacher left a gun on the back of a toilet, where it was later found by a group of students ages six to eight. No shots fired. [Source]

Mount Carmel Elementary School | Douglasville, Georgia

May 18, 2015 — Police officers left a 22-caliber pistol loaded with blanks on the playground after a K9 demo, where it was later found by two elementary school students. No shots fired. [Source]

Varennes Academy of Communication and Technology | Anderson, South Carolina

May 11, 2015 — A 5th grade student took a security guard’s gun out of his holster and held it. No shots fired. [Source]

Hephzibah Middle School | Hephzibah, Georgia

April 27, 2015 — An 8th grade student stole an unloaded 38-caliber gun from an officer’s car in the school parking lot after the officer asked the student to retrieve another item. The gun was later found in the school cafeteria. No shots fired. [Source]

East Duplin High School | Beulaville, North Carolina

December 3, 2014 — Student found high school teacher’s loaded gun that was inadvertently left it in a laptop bag in a classroom. No shots fired. [Source]

Guns discharged unintentionally

Saint Patrick Catholic School | Carlisle, Pennsylvania

August 19, 2019 — A parent unintentionally fired a gun in a parking lot during a back-to-school night for elementary school parents. The parent who fired the gun was treated in the hospital for injuries sustained from the gunshot. [Source]

Weightman Middle School | Wesley Chapel, Florida

April 30, 2019 — A school resource officer was leaning against a cafeteria wall when his agency-issued weapon fired around into the wall while still in the officer’s holster. No injuries. [Source]

Horn High School | Mesquite, Texas

April 18, 2019 — A Mesquite Police Officer assigned to a high school unintentionally discharged his handgun while inspecting it. No injuries. [Source]

Saint Josaphat Parish School | Milwaukee, Wisconsin

April 5, 2019 — A janitor’s gun unintentionally discharged. One student was bruised by falling debris caused by the bullet hitting a wall. [Source]

Blountsville Elementary | Blountsville, Alabama

March 22, 2019 — A substitute teacher unintentionally discharged a gun in a first grade classroom. One student was sent to the nurse’s office after being struck by a fragment. [Source]

Jefferson Davis Middle School | Jacksonville, Florida

February 14, 2019 — A false threat led to a brief lockdown at a middle school. While investigating the scene, an officer’s gun unintentionally discharged. No injuries. [Source]

Simonsdale Elementary School | Portsmouth, Virginia

November 20, 2018 — A parent brought a gun to an elementary school. The gun unintentionally fired, and the bullet ricocheted, striking a woman in her lower body. [Source]

Fowlerville High School | Fowlerville, Michigan

May 5, 2018 — An off-duty police officer’s gun unintentionally fired during his son’s wrestling tournament. No injuries. [Source]

Seaside High School | Seaside, California

March 13, 2018 — A teacher unintentionally fired a gun in class. One 17-year-old boy suffered moderate injuries when fragments from the bullet ricocheted off the ceiling and lodged into his neck. [Source]

North Broward Preparatory School | Coconut Creek, Florida

February 15, 2018 — A sheriff’s deputy shot himself in the leg when responding to a false alarm of shots on campus. [Source]

George Washington Middle School | Alexandria, Virginia

February 13, 2018 — A school resource officer unintentionally fired a gun inside a middle school. No injuries. [Source]

Bay City Western High School | Auburn, Michigan

November 11, 2016 — A sheriff’s deputy unintentionally discharged his gun while alone in a classroom. A teacher in an adjacent classroom was hit in the neck, though the bullet didn’t break the skin. [Source]

Patterson Elementary School | Panama City, Florida

May 6, 2016 — A corrections officer unintentionally discharged a weapon in a school parking lot while visiting for a job interview. No injuries. [Source]

Western Wayne High School | Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania

February 18, 2015 — A school police officer unintentionally discharged his gun inside a high school. The officer was suspended without pay. No injuries. [Source]

Westbrook Elementary School | Taylorsville, Utah

September 11, 2014 — A teacher placed a weapon on top of a toilet paper holder and the gun unintentionally discharged, hitting the toilet and injuring the teacher when fragments of the bullet and shattered toilet hit her leg. [Source]

Guns mishandled during discipline

Barcelona Elementary School | Albuquerque, New Mexico

December 20, 2018 — A school custodian chased six kids who he allegedly thought were trying to break into the school. The custodian pointed a gun at the kids and made threatening statements about shooting them. No shots fired. [Source]

ECHO AFL Academy for Learning | Dolton, Illinois

November 28, 2018 — A school security guard pulled a gun on a student after breaking up a fight at school. The guard also threatened to kill the student while holding them by the neck. No shots fired. [Source]

Oxford High School | Oxford, Michigan

October 3, 2017 — During a physical struggle between a student and an officer, the officer’s gun unintentionally discharged when the student tried to grab it. No injuries. [Source]

Henry David Thoreau School | Milwaukee, Wisconsin

September 15, 2016 — A 13-year-old girl became combative with officers during an investigation. An officer’s gun went off from inside the holster. The student suffered a graze wound. [Source]

Vereen School | Moultrie, Georgia

November 5, 2015 — An elementary school student being escorted out of a classroom reached into a deputy’s holster and pulled the trigger of a semiautomatic pistol. No injuries. [Source]

Guns used in times of personal stress or conflict

Blount Elementary School | Montgomery, Alabama

August 8, 2019 — Two dads got into an argument in front of the school. One father shot at the other and then ran inside the school to place a gun on the front counter. No injuries. [Source]

Westinghouse Academy | Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

May 23, 2019 — A teacher’s aide brought a gun to school after getting into a physical altercation with a student. The aide claimed that the student had threatened him and that he felt unsafe. No shots fired. [Source]

Aurora West College Preparatory Academy | Aurora, Colorado

April 3, 2019 — A school administrator was arrested after bringing a gun to school and using it to threaten other staff members. No injuries. [Source]

W.T. Chipman Middle School | Harrington, Delaware

December 5, 2018 — A middle school wrestling coach got into an argument with a 13-year-old student during practice. The coach tried to choke the victim, and pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the student in the restroom. No shots fired. [Source]

Eastern Technical High School | Essex, Maryland

November 12, 2018 — A school resource officer shot and killed himself at school when students were present. The school was placed on lockdown, but no students or other staff were harmed. [Source]

Norwalk High School | Norwalk, Connecticut

September 4, 2018 — A cafeteria worker was arrested after threatening to shoot a gun in the school. Officers discovered a .22 caliber rifle in the trunk of the cafeteria worker’s car. No shots fired. [Source]

Dalton High School | Dalton, Georgia

February 28, 2018 — A teacher barricaded himself in his empty classroom and fired a shot out of the window. No injuries. [Source]

Bayonne High School | Bayonne, New Jersey

November 30, 2017 — The head coach of an ice hockey team gained possession of an assistant coach/New Jersey State trooper’s gun and pointed it at two unknown individuals during practice. No shots fired. [Source]

Lithia Springs High School | Lithia Springs, Georgia

August 17, 2017 — A high school teacher was injured by a self-inflicted gunshot in a classroom. [Source]

Kirbyville High School | Kirbyville, Texas

May 24, 2017 — A principal resigned, walked out to his truck in the school’s parking lot, and shot himself in the head. [Source]

El Modena High School | Orange, California

April 23, 2017 — An assistant varsity football coach locked himself inside a classroom with a loaded firearm and threatened suicide in a 10-hour standoff with police. Students and adults evacuated. No shots fired. [Source]

Other incidents of guns brought onto campus

Perkins Elementary School | St. Petersburg, Florida

September 13, 2019 — A parent brought a gun to school hidden under his shirt as he waited to pick up his child. A school resource officer called the police after noticing the gun. No shots fired. [Source]

Lakeside High School | Hot Springs, Arkansas

September 6, 2019 — A school employee self-reported having a gun on campus. Officers were not aware of any threats made by the employee, and no shots were fired. [Source]

Kent County High School | Worton, Maryland

September 4, 2019 — A school bus driver demonstrated concerning, erratic behaviors and brought a loaded handgun into the school in his pocket. No shots fired. [Source]

Cherry River Elementary School | Richwood, West Virginia

August 27, 2019 — A teacher brought a loaded Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolver onto school property. No shots fired. [Source]

Riverside High School | Buffalo, New York

May 14, 2019 — A Buffalo Common Council Member brought a loaded gun to school while attending an event. The principal agreed to store the gun in his office, even though only sworn law enforcement officers are permitted to bring guns onto campuses. No shots fired. [Source]

Rancho Cucamonga High School | Rancho Cucamonga, California

May 7, 2019 — A teacher was placed on administrative leave after school administrators discovered that he kept a gun in the classroom. No shots fired. [Source]

Nandua High School | Onley, Virginia

March 27, 2019 — A substitute teacher was arrested for bringing a gun onto campus. No shots fired. [Source]

Southwest Edgecombe High School | Pinetops, North Carolina

March 18, 2019 — A school custodian was arrested for having a loaded gun in his car. Other staff members reported that he made threats against them. No shots fired. [Source]

Gray Collegiate Academy | West Columbia, South Carolina

February 14, 2019 — A contract employee with the school’s food service vendor was charged with carrying a gun on school grounds. No shots fired. [Source]

Lakeside Intermediate School | Hot Springs, Arizona

February 7, 2019 — A parent wore a holster in a middle school lunchroom, leaving his gun sitting in plain sight inside his car on school property. The parent is a convicted felon and is not permitted to be in possession of a firearm. No shots fired. [Source]

Olsen Middle School | Fort Lauderdale, Florida

August 15, 2018 — A security specialist at a middle school brought a gun to school in his car, and was later arrested after authorities received an anonymous tip that he had a firearm and was thought to be unstable. No shots fired. [Source]

School Bus | Lafayette, New York

November 8, 2017 — A student noticed the bus driver had a concealed handgun. No shots fired. [Source]

Sprague High School | Salem, Oregon

October 20, 2017 — Students reported that a teacher brought a gun to their high school campus. No shots fired. [Source]

Charles Town Middle School | Charles Town, West Virginia

April 4, 2017 — A student allegedly spotted a firearm inside a teacher’s vehicle. A loaded gun and a box of ammo were recovered from the car. No shots fired. [Source]

Baldwin Middle School | Jacksonville, Florida

December 1, 2016 — A middle school basketball coach brought a handgun to school, which he showed to his team during practice. No shots fired. [Source]

Bottom line: Arming teachers would increase risk, not safety.

In many of the incidents in our database, trained school resource officers and security guards mishandled or unintentionally fired their weapons. It is likely that these events would be even more common if teachers are armed, given that teachers will have less formal firearms safety training than a school resource officer in nearly every case. Even if precautions are taken to safeguard firearms, arming teachers would increase students’ access and exposure to guns.

The gun lobby and the Trump administration would like to see more guns in schools. But the data is clear: More guns in schools means putting students in harm’s way.

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