Ohio Chardon High School Shooting Begs Question: Why is Gun Violence So Common in U.S. Schools?

A teenager at a Cleveland high school opened fire in the school cafeteria Monday, killing one student and wounding four others before being chased from the building and captured, according to the Associated Press.

The Ohio shooting is the worst at a U.S. high school in 11 months, and the worst in Ohio since late 2007, according to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

The shooting took place at around 7:30 a.m. local time while students were in the cafeteria studying and eating breakfast. The gunman reportedly targeted a group of students sitting at a cafeteria table. Students ran screaming through the halls after gunfire broke out and teachers locked down their classrooms as they had been trained to do during drills.

Police have not formally identified the gunman because he is a juvenile, but students, parents of students, and local media told Reuters his name is T.J. Lane. 

FBI officials did not comment on a motive for the attack, but some students said the gunman was known as an outcast who had been bullied. Other fellow students disagreed, describing T.J. Lane merely as quiet. "Even though he was quiet, he still had friends," said Tyler Lillash, 16. "He was not bullied."

Whatever the motivation, the Ohio attack fits into a broader pattern of deadly school shootings in America. The deadliest shooting in the U.S. was the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech University that left 33 people dead. 

The worst high school shooting was the 1999 attack at Columbine High School in Colorado that killed 12 students and a teacher.

Experts have offered dozens of theories to explain the rise of school shootings in America, everything from loose gun laws and easy access to weapons, to violent video games and a "culture of violence." Liberal documentary filmmaker Michael Moore tacked the subject in his film "Bowling for Columbine," in which he examines the root causes of America's addiction to guns by comparing gun violence in the U.S. to other countries: 

Gun deaths per year

  1. United States - 11,127 (3.601/100,000)
  2. Germany – 381 (0.466/100,000)
  3. France – 255 (0.389/100,000)
  4. Canada – 165 (0.484/100,000)
  5. United Kingdom – 68 (0.109/100,000)
  6. Australia – 65 (0.292/100,000)
  7. Japan – 39 (0.030/100,000)

Join the debate: What explains the prevalence of gun violence in America's schools? Why has it been an ongoing trend over the past two decades?

Photo Credit: Smarter's photos
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