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Every Incident of Mishandled Guns in Schools

    Last Updated

    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 nearly 100 publicly reported incidents of mishandled guns at schools in the last five years, including:

    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.

    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

    Catherine Cook School | Chicago, Illinois

    March 6, 2020—An off-duty police officer serving as a school security guard left a gun in a school bathroom where it was discovered by three young students. No shots fired.  [Source]

    Ingram Middle School | Ingram, Texas

    January 16, 2020—A school resource officer left a firearm unintended in the bathroom, where it was found by a student. No shots fired.Source ]

    Pleasant Grove Independent School District | Texarkana, Texas

    December 5, 2019 — A school district employee’s firearm fell out of its holster onto a school bus seat. The firearm was later found by a student. No shots fired.Source ]

    Whitney Middle School | Whitney, Texas

    October 23, 2019 — A teacher left her gun unattended in a teacher’s workroom. The teacher served as a school guardian and was authorized to have a gun on campus. No shots fired. [ Source ]

    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 ]

    Whitney High School | Whitney, Texas

    August 28, 2019 — A vice principal left her gun unattended in a restroom on campus. The vice principal served as a school guardian and was authorized to have a gun on campus. 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

    Lower Elementary School | Grove, Oklahoma

    January 21, 2021—A parent waiting in the pick up line at school unintentionally shot himself while in his vehicle. [ Source ]

    Pine View Elementary School | Rockwood, Tennessee

    March 13, 2020—A school resource officer unintentionally discharged his firearm in his office at the school. No injuries. [ Source ]

    Sagemont School | Weston, Florida

    March 5, 2020—A school security guard unintentionally shot a school maintenance worker in the eye while showing him his gun in the school parking lot. [ Source ]

    Three Fires Elementary School | Howell, Michigan

    January 17, 2020 — A father unintentionally shot himself in the leg while waiting to pick up his child from school.Source ]

    Picacho Middle School | Las Cruces, New Mexico

    December 4, 2019 — A school resource officer unintentionally discharged his duty-issued handgun in his office at the school. A wall was struck, but no one was injured. Source ]

    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

    River Ridge High School | New Port Richey, Florida

    December 17, 2019 — A school resource officer threatened to shoot a student trying to leave campus because the officer mistakenly believed the student was being truant. No shots fired. Source ]

    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

    Matthew Gilbert Middle School | Jacksonville, Florida

    March 23, 2021—A mother used a gun to threaten three other parents during a confrontation in the school parking lot. No shots fired. [ Source

    Veterans High School | Kathleen, Georgia

    February 21, 2020 — Two adults dropping off students got into an argument over which one of them was supposed to “go ahead of the other,” leading one of the men to get out of his vehicle with the handgun. No shots fired. [ Source ]

    School Bus | Berkeley, Missouri

    February 12, 2020 — A father stormed onto a school bus with a loaded pistol and threatened the bus driver and several students. No shots fired. [ Source ]

    Concordia Lutheran High School | Tomball, Texas

    January 21, 2020 — A teacher brought a handgun to school and made threatening statements about his colleagues. No shots fired. Source ]

    Lithia Springs High School | Lithia Springs, Georgia

    January 7, 2020 — A mother threatened students with a gun at a basketball game after her children got into a fight with students from a rival school. The woman’s daughter allegedly used a Taser on another student during the altercation, but the mother’s gun was not fired.Source ]

    Mill Creek Middle School| Woodstock, Georgia

    November 6, 2019 — The mother of a middle school student was arrested after bringing a firearm on campus and fighting with school employees. No shots fired, but the school was locked down to protect students. [ Source ]

    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

    Wayne Central Middle School | Ontario, New York

    March 1, 2021—A school resource officer was shot in the foot after his firearm discharged while confronting a school custodian who was making threats with a knife. [ Source ]

    W.T. Moore Elementary School | Tallahassee, Florida

    December 9, 2019 — A parent had a loaded gun unsecured under the driver’s seat of his car as he waited to pick up his child. No shots fired. [ Source ]

    Yankeetown Elementary School | Newburgh, Indiana

    November 13, 2019 — A parent brought a gun and methamphetamine onto school property in his car. No shots fired. [ Source ]

    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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