The nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19 has shuttered schools in nearly every state. And, perhaps not surprisingly, for the first time since 2002, last month was the first March without a school shooting in America, according to a data check by a Washington Post reporter.
This statistic is coupled with the fact that this past March also saw the second-highest gun sales in any month since 2000. With 1.9 million gun purchases in March 2020, many are blaming fears of social unrest sparked by the pandemic.
Leading gun control advocates celebrate reporter Robert Klemko’s findings, but they also fear that there may be a spike in shootings, once the lockdowns end, Common Dreams, a nonprofit social justice organization, writes.
In Klemko’s original tweet breaking the news about no school shootings in March for the first time in nearly two decades, he writes that even in 2002, there was a close call.
In March 2002, a 13-year-old brought a 0.22 caliber gun to his middle school with 50 extra bullets. He was stopped by a school resource officer after the shooter took failed aim at his science teacher, Klemko explained.
Many people took to Twitter to comment on the original message — which now has over 143,000 retweets and 602,000 likes — to discuss Klemko’s findings. The reactions are mixed.
Some Twitter users are quick to point out that the Wikipedia page for School Shootings has multiple March months without school shootings, proving their nonexistence.
Klemko quickly disagreed. “You should never treat Wikipedia as a primary source,” he said.
Klemko said his data came from websites and databases like the National School Safety Center Files, National School Safety and Security Servies Archives, and Everytown Research.
In response to Klemko’s findings, Robbie Whelan from the Wall Street Journal tweeted that this was a “heartbreaking statistic.”
While the news that this March was the first since 2002 without a school shooting sounds like a point of optimism through this pandemic, it’s likely due to the simple fact that nearly all the schools have been closed and students have moved to online-remote learning, The Week explains.
Klemko agreed, tweeting, “[The statistic] coincided with schools not being open to students.”
It’s unclear if the trend will change or stay the same as schools remain closed, and it’s even more unclear what will happen with school shooting statistics when education institutions reopen, Common Dreams writes.
“When this pandemic ends and we emerge from this physical distancing reality, the guns will remain,” tweeted Guns Down America executive director Igor Volsky, as quoted by Common Dreams. “Will there be increased mass shootings, school shootings, shootings at home, at work, at concerts?”
Generally speaking, most types of crime have gone down since the start of many city-wide lockdowns, which have affected “more than two-thirds of Americans.”
Andrea Cipriano is a TCR staff writer.