May 6, 2024 - News

Gun incidents at Ohio schools have surged

Illustration of a bullet balancing on the tip of a pencil

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

K-12 schools in the U.S. saw 1,468 firearm incidents in the decade ending in 2023, a 324% increase from the prior decade's 346 incidents.

Why it matters: Ohio had the fifth most incidents of any state with 127 during the past decade, according to K-12 School Shooting Database, an open-source research project attempting to quantify gun incidents at grade schools.

  • Only California, Texas, Florida and Illinois had more.

How it works: "Incidents" are defined as instances when a gun is fired or brandished with intent to shoot, or when a bullet hits school property.

The latest: 111 incidents have occurred nationwide so far this year, as of April 29, including four in Ohio.

The big picture: Absent significant gun reform, schools are increasingly turning to other measures to protect kids, ranging from rules requiring see-through backpacks to issuing teachers "panic buttons" and hiring armed guards.

Zoom in: Ohio schools are also allowing staff to be armed.

  • In March, the Ohio Controlling Board approved the purchase of two portable training centers that can be used this summer to train armed teachers and staff in the state.
  • Currently, 63 school districts in Ohio have registered to be able to arm non-police staff members, according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, up from 22 districts as of March 2023.
  • Parma City Schools, the only district in Cuyahoga County to register, passed a resolution in July 2023 authorizing certain staff members (mostly security personnel) to carry guns during the school day.

What they're saying: Ken Trump, president of the Cleveland-based National School Safety and Security Services, said during a recent podcast interview that the COVID pandemic compounded the problem.

  • "We saw an uptick, as expected, in aggressive, violent behavior, verbal aggression, physical aggression, altercation and conflicts," Trump said.

Between the lines: Trump also said there's been an increase in attempts of mass violence, including those that are gang-related.

The bottom line: "It really points to the importance of staff being trained in de-escalation to intervene in neighborhood gang group conflicts. It's certainly some challenging times."

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