Using an Open-Source Database to Understand School Shootings

This publication by the NIJ summarizes work done to create a national open-source database of all known shootings that resulted in at least one injury on K-12 school grounds between 1990 and 2016. The researchers included shootings that took place on school grounds or in close proximity and those known as mass school shootings. They endeavored to provide an evidence-based understanding of the key causes of school shootings by analyzing data on where and when the incidents occur and highlighting key incident and individual-level characteristics. The database is called The American School Shooting Study (TASSS).

To benefit law enforcement, school officials, and policymakers, the research team:

  • Built TASSS using open-source data to document the nature of the problem
  • Analyzed TASSS to provide a comprehensive understanding of the individuals who perpetrated school shootings
  • Compared fatal and non-fatal attacks to identify possible intervention points

The researchers also provided carefully curated case studies to capture the life course of those who offend with guns and to gain insight into situational crime prevention related to schools. Their ultimate goal was to help law enforcement and school administrators differentiate between the kinds of school shootings that exist to improve policy and response.

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