US gun violence in six chilling statistics

Santa Fe High School in Texas becomes scene of latest fatal school shooting

A pistol is fired at a US gun show
(Image credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty)

A Texas high school has become the latest US campus to be struck by gun violence, as at least eight people lost their lives in an early-morning rampage in an art classroom.

The unidentified gunman opened fire at Santa Fe High School just before 8am local time on Friday morning.

At least eight people are confirmed to have died, with an unknown number of injuries. Police told local news station ABC-13 that the situation has been “contained” and that a suspect is in custody.

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Some Santa Fe students who spoke to ABC in the aftermath of the shooting said they were shocked that their school had become the scene of a bloody shooting, but at least one teenager had a frighteningly blase response to the attack:

“It's been happening everywhere," a girl identified as Paige told the station. “I always felt like eventually it would happen here. I wasn't surprised, I was just scared.”

The Santa Fe incident brings to ten the number of fatal shooting incidents in US schools since the start of 2018, according to statistics from the Gun Violence Archive, a charity that tracks shooting incidents in the US.

Only a handful of these fit the model of “school shootings” in the Columbine mould, where a student actively targets fellow students.

For instance, on 28 March, 51-year-old Jesse Kilgus was shot and killed by police in a standoff on the grounds of John Hardin High School in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, after shooting his wife at their home.

Other incidents of gun deaths on school campuses include three suicides, an accidental shooting and an adult man fatally shot during an argument in a high-school car park.

Overall, the 52 months since January 2014, only six have passed without at least one instance of gun violence in a US school.

Their figures lay bare the fatal toll of gun violence in the US. Between 2014 and 2017, 56,755 Americans were killed by guns, including 2,710 children under the age of 12.

In that time, there have been 1,333 mass shootings - defined as incidents in which at least four people are injured or killed - eight of them at elementary or high schools.

The figures compiled by the GVA include both intentional and accidental shootings, but do not include suicides, which account for an additional 22,000 gun deaths every year.

Americans are more likely to die from a gunshot than from skin cancer or stomach cancer.

Pew Research data reveals that 46% of gun owners who live with children do not keep their firearms locked. Around 30% said their weapons were kept loaded at all times and stored in an easily accessible location.

The Pew data also lays bare the difficulties facing lawmakers looking to curb gun violence in a bitterly partisan politics environment.

While half of all Americans polled in 2017 agreed that gun violence was a “very big problem” in US society, gun owners and non-gun owners are deeply divided on how to tackle it.

For instance, 80% of non-gun owners were in a favour of a federal registry to track gun sales, a proposal supported by only 54% of gun owners. Meanwhile, the majority of gun owners believe that stricter regulations will not lead to fewer mass shootings.

Gun control advocates also have to contend with a deep-rooted cultural attachment to personal firearms.

Half of all gun owners - who skew white, rural and Republican - said that owning a firearm was part of their identity and nearly three-quarters said they could not imagine life without a gun.

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