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Characteristics and Obtainment Methods of Firearms Used in Adolescent School Shootings

NCJ Number
JAMA Pediatrics Volume: 178 Issue: 1 Dated: 2023 Pages: 73-79
Date Published
7 pages

This study discusses the types of firearms used in school shootings and how the firearms are obtained.


In this cross-sectional study of data from 262 adolescents who discharged firearms in 253 school shootings spanning 26 years from The American School Shooting Study, school shooting incidents in the US were typically executed using low- and moderate-powered firearms.  Despite the more frequent use of lower to moderately powered firearms in school shootings, this study’s results indicated stability in the use of high-powered weapons in adolescent school shootings throughout the research timeframe.  A majority of the firearms were procured from the perpetrator’s family or relatives or from friends or acquaintances. These findings may significantly influence discussions around gun control policy, particularly in advocating for secure firearm storage to reduce adolescents’ access to weapons. These findings inform the debate on how school shooters obtain their firearms and indicate that secure storage of firearms could benefit public health. This cross-sectional study used descriptive statistics and logistic regression to analyze 253 school shootings executed by 262 adolescents (aged ≤19 years) in the US from January 1, 1990, to December 31, 2016, and to calculate adjusted estimates for missing cases. The data were sourced from The American School Shooting Study (TASSS), which compiles information about these shooting events from open-source materials. Data analysis was performed from June 23, 2023, to July 20, 2023. A total of 262 adolescents were studied. In the adjusted analyses, handguns were the most used weapon in school shootings. Firearms were predominantly lower or moderate in power. Adolescents mainly obtained their guns from relatives, friends or acquaintances, the illegal market, strangers or persons who were shot, or licensed dealers. Most firearms were procured via theft from relatives. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2023