The States That Experience the Most School Shootings Have This 1 Thing In Common

Gun control is a hot topic. There are lots of gun control myths out there, and there are a few facts that show just how bad gun violence is in America. Whenever we add to the growing list of school shootings in America, we talk about the myths and the facts for a few days, then wait for the next deadly incident. Research shows that the states where school shootings are more frequent have one thing in common.

We’ll give you some background on school shootings and guns in America, tell you the states where school shootings happen more frequently, and then reveal what those states have in common (page 10).

Getting a gun in America is easy

Bret Reid shows off a Remington 700 hunting rifle and a Remington R1 Enhanced model 1911 pistol

Buying a gun in America is very easy. | Brian Blanco/Getty Images

  • It’s usually a quick two-step process; in Australia, it takes months or years

Getting a gun in America is almost as easy as getting a driver’s license. Once you pass a brief background check you can go buy a gun, or you can skip the check entirely and buy from a private seller.

Meanwhile, the crazy process in Australia involves joining a shooting club, passing multiple tests, and going through a rigorous background check.

Next: Let’s look at the map.

Some states and cities have it worse

In New Orleans on Bourbon St. on August 7, 2013 a jazz band plays jazz melodies in the street for donations from the tourists and locals passing by on this hot summer evening

Gun deaths are agonizingly common in Louisiana. | Simplyphotos/iStock/Getty Images

  • One state has more gun deaths than flu fatalities.

The U.S. has a few states where you’re more likely to die from gun violence than in other states. Louisiana and Alaska have more than two gun deaths per 1,000 people, and Louisiana had more gun-related deaths in 2015 than flu and pneumonia deaths. Plus, a few cities are more prone to gun violence than others.

Next: Depressing numbers you have to see.

Depressing school shooting statistics

Shooting At High School In Parkland, Florida Injures Multiple People

School shooters usually display warning signs. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • Shooters usually display troubling behavior and tell others what they plan to do.

Lots of school shooting statistics are almost too depressing to believe, but these two figures stand out:

  • 93% of shooters displayed behaviors that concerned others.
  • 80% of the time, at least one person knew the shooter was planning an attack.

With those figures, you’d expect we could prevent many school shootings, but that’s not the case.

Next: Since 1990, 31 U.S. states have had fatal school shootings.

A few states are more prone to school shootings

Some states have suffered from school shootings more than others. | Mark Wilson/Getty Images

  • 31 states have suffered fatal school shootings since 1990, according to Ballotpedia.

Of the 15 states with the most school shootings since 1990, 12 had fatal incidents. Only a few states avoided any school shootings, while California leads the way with 19 school shootings since 1990.

Next: The five states where school shootings are more frequent.


An officer on his knees places a flagamong many flags at the site of a memorial

Tennessee has seen its share of tragedy. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • School shootings: 10

From Jan. 1, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2015, Tennessee had 10 school shootings, according to Pacific Standard Magazine, citing research from The BMJ. During that time, 39 states contributed to 154 school shootings in the U.S.

Next: Tennessee’s neighbor shows up, too.

North Carolina

North Carolina has seen an alarming number of incidents in a few short years. |

  • School shootings: 12

The 12 school shootings in North Carolina from 2013 to 2015 includes three victims in four non-fatal incidents from August 2013 to September 2014. The BMJ researchers found an additional eight shootings to include in their study.

Next: A recent tragedy isn’t included in the number of school shootings in this state.


The shooting at Parkland was only Florida’s latest school shooting. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • School shootings: 14

The data used by BMJ to find out the states where school shootings are more frequent stops at the end of 2015, so the Florida school shooting from February 2018 isn’t included. Still, the Sunshine State logged 14 school shootings in the three years that were part of the study.

Next: A state that knows exactly what Florida is going through.


Frank Pomeroy and his wife Sherri

Texas recently lost 10 students in a school shooting at Santa Fe High School near Houston. | Mark Ralston /AFP/Getty Images

  • School shootings: 14

Like Florida, Texas experienced a tragic school shooting in 2018 that is not included in The BMJ research. A 30-minute rampage at Santa Fe High School near Houston in May 2018 left 10 people dead. According to CNN, the suspect won’t receive the death penalty or life in prison and will be eligible for parole 40 years after sentencing.

Next: This state had seven school shootings in two years.


A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent fires an H&K P2000 handgun

Two Georgia students have been killed in recent years. | John Moore/Getty Images

  • School shootings: 15

According to data from Ballotpedia, Georgia suffered endured seven school shootings in 2013 and 2014 alone, two of which included fatalities. The most recent fatal shooting happened after a football game in October 2014.

Next: What these five states have in common.

What do they all have in common?

Kids looking at guns at NRA Annual Meeting And Exhibits

These states pride themselves on their lax gun laws. | Chris Livingston/Getty Images

  • Besides geography, they all have similar gun laws.

Aside from being clustered in the south and being states where school shootings are more frequent, Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, and Georgia all have one thing in common: Lax gun laws.

All five have laws prohibiting people with felonies, violent misdemeanors, mental health issues, and drug and alcohol issues from owning guns, but that’s nothing special. Only six states don’t have those kinds of laws on the books.

Georgia doesn’t have any laws restricting ownership for people with domestic violence convictions (the other four do), and among the five, only North Carolina has mandatory background checks.

Also, The BMJ study finds school shootings happen less often in states that spend more money on education and mental health programs.

Next: A few states are doing things much differently.

Some states are changing their laws

Parkland Students, Activists, Rally At Florida State Capitol For Gun Control

In some states, the voices of the victims are being heard. | Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

  • Six states let police take guns from some people.

Eliminating all school shooting incidents won’t be easy, but a few states are doing what they can to ensure they don’t join the states where school shootings are more frequent. A few states with restrictive gun laws make it very hard to get a gun in the first place. Plus, six states with red flag laws let police take guns from people who might be threats to others.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!