The number of U.S. school shootings in 2023 surpassed last year's record-breaking number of 305 school shootings on Thursday, according to a count by the K-12 School Shooting Database. The number of incidents this year has reached 306 — yet another record high for the third consecutive year.
The number puts it on track to likely land somewhere between 360 and 400 by the end of the year, according to a prediction made by school shooting expert David Riedman, who founded the database.
Riedman's database is one of the leading projects documenting school shootings. It documents any time a gun is fired or brandished with intent, or when a bullet hits school property, regardless of the number of victims, time, day or reason behind the incident. His estimate for this year's total shootings by the end of 2023 is based on trends dating back 57 years and a review of weekly shooting rates while school was in session during the past two school years.
K-12 school shootings reach historic high
Though Riedman's data is compiled from media reports and dates back to 1966, he said it's still a relatively small dataset for applying predictive statistics. That, combined with a number of other factors, makes it difficult to pin down a final number.
This fall, there have been somewhere between 5-10 incidents every week, per the database.
"There has been a real increase in shootings at sporting events," said Riedman. However, with just two months of the year left to go and the end of football season, Riedman said the rate is likely to slow down.
Other factors also make the final number of school shootings in 2023 difficult to determine at this point, including a trend of randomness in school shootings that Riedman has noted emerged this year.
School shootings break another record in line with trends
In late October, for example, an active shooter incident unfolded at Wisconsin's Kennedy Middle School after a man "with no known relationship to the community or school" was "observed acting erratically" in the school parking lot, according to an Oct. 24 news release from the Wisconsin Department of Justice. The suspect's car, which had out-of-state plates, broke down and was taken to a car repair shop. He then left on foot, walked onto school grounds, climbed onto the roof, and shot at the police.
"He could have been on the roof of a restaurant or the roof of the library," said Riedman. "But, you know, it just happened to be the school."
However, most shootings so far this year have been committed by people with a direct connection to the school or community and are a result of escalated disputes, in line with trends observed in recent years.
"There are more people carrying guns than any other point in history that we know of," said Riedman. "And that's just leading to a lot of incidents happening in schools."