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2023 Proved to be a Violent One for the Books

By:  Daniel Dean, Michelle Cummings

January 12, 2023

UPDATE – on January 14, 2024, the Principal of Perry High School died, bringing the number killed in this tragic event to two and the number injured down to four.

As we enter our new year, it is shocking that the United States experienced its first school shooting within the first 4 days of the year. This active shooter event occurred in Perry, Iowa at Perry High School which resulted in the death of one child and caused injury to five others (Burton, 2024). School shootings have consistently been on the rise over the past several years. Unfortunately, this past year proved to be exceptionally violent.  

Education Weekly (Updated December 31, 2023) documented thirty-seven school shootings that resulted in injury or death in 2023. These events all occurred during school hours. Twenty people were killed and forty-two were injured due to these combined events. The most horrific school shooting of the year was the Covenant School Shooting in Nashville, Tennessee on March 27, 2023, which individually resulted in the death of six people.

A valuable resource for school shooting statistics is the K-12 School Shooting Database. The K-12 School Shooting Database defines a school shooting as “…when a gun is brandished, is fired, or a bullet hits school property for any reason, regardless of the number of victims, time, or day of the week”. This database documented 346 incidents in 2023, resulting in 249 deaths (Riedman, 2023).

In addition to K-12 schools, college campuses were not immune from active shooter events in 2023. On February 13, 2023, three people were killed and five were injured at Michigan State University. On October 03, 2023, five people were injured by gunfire at Morgan State University. On December 06, 2023, three people were killed and one was injured at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (Welding, 2023).

The overall numbers for mass murders and mass shootings are on the rise. According to Gun Violence Archive (www.gunviolencearchive.org), the United States experienced 40 mass murders, which the FBI defines as four or more people killed not including the shooter.  This is up from thirty-six mass murders in 2022.  In addition, the United States witnessed 656 mass shooting events. The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as an event where four or more people are injured or killed not including the shooter. This is up from 646 mass shootings in 2022.

We must take a proactive approach to our safety and security. Relying on our government to solve the violence in our society is not a viable option. The police are here to protect and serve, but they are reactionary during these types of events. How do you protect yourself and the people you are responsible for until the police arrive?

The first step is an in-depth site security assessment. This is conducted by a trained professional to address your environmental, physical, electronic, and procedural security. Second, you must train yourself and your staff. This starts with situational awareness training. The best protection you can have been a situationally aware staff. The next step is active shooter survival training. All training programs are not created equally. Do your research and select the best training available. “Run, Hide, Fight” was great when it was initially developed, but we have learned a lot since then. Hiding should never be one of your top options. Finally, you should have members of your staff trained in “Stop the Bleed.”  This is basic emergency gunshot wound first aid. In an active shooter event, paramedics will not enter the facility, nor will any first responder render first aid until the shooter is neutralized. You can bleed out from a gunshot wound in 3 minutes or less. Having people trained can save lives.

Remember, improving your safety and security is an ongoing process. This is not a one and done event. Training should be updated regularly, and policies/procedures should be reviewed on an ongoing basis. Let us get our heads out of the sand and turn this horrific trend around.


Burton, J. (2024). What we know so far about the Iowa school shooting. www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/perry-high-school-shooting-iowa-des-moines-rcna/32347. January 04, 2024.

Gun Violence Archive. www.gunviolencearchive.org.

Riedman, D. (2023). K-12 School Shooting Database.

School Shootings This Year: How Many and Where (2023, January 6). Education Week. Retrieved Month, Day, Year from  www.edweek.org/leadership/school-shootings-this-year-how-many-and-where/2023/01

Welding, L. (2023). Shootings at Colleges: US Statistics. www.bestcolleges.com/research/college-shootings-statistics/. November 08, 2023.