OPINION: What Causes School Shootings and How We Can Prevent Them


Kate Wallace

A school shooting can happen at any school at anytime, so how can we help prevent them?

In our world today, many negative things are happening. War, murder, poverty, climate change, racism, homophobia and plenty of other bad things. One of the worst of these things is happening in our schools: Shootings. There have been 230 mass shootings since the Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1999. Schools have gone to great lengths to protect their students, but despite their efforts, it does not always prevent the shooter from shooting.

Anyone can cause a school shooting—adults or students—but this article will focus on students. A student can have many reasons to bring a gun to school and use it to harm others, and people have been trying to figure out why. Parents have resorted to banning their kids from playing video games because they think they cause violence, but is that always the case? Or is it something more personal, like being bullied, that causes students to resort to gun violence?

Being Bullied

Bullying is a large problem in our world. People can be physically bullied, like getting punched, kicked, or shoved. People can also be emotionally bullied, like being made fun of, being told to kill themselves, or being told they are worthless. Bullies may have motives to bully someone. For example, if someone is different (race, LGBT+, poverty, disabilities, etc.), but it still definitely does not excuse the bullies.  American SPCC says 160,000 students skip school every day in fear of being bullied. That is a horrible thing to think about. So, why can a kid being bullied be a factor in school shootings?

First off, being bullied can make people do things they would never do such as commit suicide or hurting themselves or others. A kid may be bullied at school, and may simply have had enough of it so they take their rage out on either the bully, innocent students, or both by bringing a gun to school. It makes some sense, but does not at all excuse the kid from their actions. It is, however, provides at a reason why they did it in the first place. Bullies may only target one person, but they may be putting innocent kids at risk as well. For this reason, parents and schools should take bullying more seriously than ever before.


Imagine this: A kid joins the football team. He is not good at the sport, and the other players call him out on it. They tell him he should quit, that he will never be as good as them. He does eventually get cut after the rest of the team talks to the coach about it. The kid is upset and wants to get revenge on the players. So one day he brings a gun to school and starts to shoot at the kids on the football team. 

That was a case of revenge. Revenge can come from being bullied, but it could also be simply because of being jealous, like if your best friend got in a higher class the you did. That can lead some students to take revenge into extreme matters, like bringing a gun to school. 

It isn’t anyone’s fault besides their own if someone wants to get revenge on someone for a little reason, but there is a chance we can help prevent it. Parents can teach their children more about why revenge is a bad thing, and that some things simply need to be let go. Although if a student is being bullied and wanted revenge on the bully, the child should know it is safe to come to an adult and explain the issue so there is no violence. The adult also needs to take action on this.

Easily Getting a Weapon

According to the Second Amendment of the Bill Of Rights: A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed”. 

This means that all U.S. citizens have the right to bear arms, or have guns. People are trying to take this right away due to mass and school shootings. It is simple for anyone to get a weapon. Someone could walk into a gun store, get a background check, buy a gun and be on their way, and that could be scary. 

according to USA Today, there are more than 54,026 federally licensed firearm’s dealers in the United States. Individuals can buy a gun at a gun store, pawn shop, the internet, or just borrow one from a family member or friend. To buy a gun, you have to go through a background check first. Though that can help, someone who has never once done something bad in their life could decide to buy a gun and use it for harm. Background checks won’t help there. 

It is against the law to have a gun if you lied on your application to buy the gun, are a convicted felon, have substance abuse addiction, or are in the country illegally. Even if there is a bad history in someone’s background check, they may still get a gun. This issue happened with 21 year old Dylann Roof. He somehow passed the background check, despite having previous arrests for trespassing and drug possession. He then used the gun to shoot and kill nine African Americans during a prayer service at Charleston Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina.

Getting a gun this easily is frightening. Sometimes even if someone’s background history is bad, people can still get guns. In my opinion, I am not against guns, but I think that we should check everyone’s history more carefully and diligently. There is gun control in the U.S., but what needs to happen is for us to enforce it better.

Video Games

Parents around the country are aware of these shootings, and many have held video games to blame. Many have taken away their children’s consoles in fear of them causing a shooting. However, can video games really be the main cause to start shootings? Is that all parents should be worrying about?

First, there is no actual evidence that all violent video games cause violent actions. Patrik Markery, director of the Interpersonal Research Laboratory said, “When we look at when people play video games, we actually see a dip in violent crimes… and we don’t see an uptick later on.” There is evidence that violent video games cause aggression after being played. A healthy mind would take that aggression out at the gym, but a troubled mind could take it out at a school.

A child with some sort of mental health can be a sign for a parent to take away their violent video games. If a child has a healthy mind but has aggression over violent video games, you shouldn’t worry too much about violent video games. If a child has a troubled mind and has aggression over these games, that is when a parent should take action. Healthy minds know the difference between simulation and real life. A troubled mind may have trouble processing the difference between what’s fake and reality, and that is when they might think it is alright to shoot people.

The U.S. is not even the largest producer of violent video games; China is. Yet the U.S. still has the largest mass shooting rate. Also, most of the information about video games and shootings has been misrepresented throughout the media. Like I’ve stated before, the main causes seem to be, from what I have researched, bullying, revenge, and easily getting a weapon. Therefore, video games aren’t the main cause, and parents should not be so worried about video games, and should instead help their children with emotional/mental problems that they might have. If the child has a troubled mind, that is when the parent should take away these violent video games from their child.    

There are plenty of other reasons why someone would bring a gun to school, like bad parenting and mental issues, but I focused on only a few reasons. By looking into research, we can help determine what the main factors are, and hopefully help stop these situations from happening. Maybe instead of asking parents why they think their kids would start a school shooting, we should ask the kids since they know themselves better than adults do. Maybe one day this will all stop, once we all realize what we are doing wrong.