GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A University of Michigan expert says school shootings are preventable like other firearm injuries.
The University of Michigan's Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention studies the types of programs and tools we can use to reduce firearm injuries, particularly among adolescents.
Patrick Carter, co-director of the Institute, says there isn't one specific policy or intervention to prevent school shootings, rather there can be multiple solutions, and it's institutes like his that are researching this data to find solutions.
"By the time the active shooter enters the school, it's too late and we need to think about what we can do the prevent that in the first place," said Carter.
"What are some of the prevention focused solutions that we can do to upstream of these types of events to improve school climate, to improve school safety, to reduce bullying and violent behaviors, to reduce access to firearms by people who shouldn't have access to them?"
Most recently in 2020, Carter says firearm injuries were the leading cause of death for children and teens in the U.S. and it has been increasing.
Firearm injuries need to be seen as a public health problem.
Carter says we need to approach firearm injuries like motor vehicle crash injuries that have been reduced over the past 50 years by investing in thinking about the comprehensive problem with solutions that include behavior and policy.
"Car companies today market on safety and people buy cars based on safety. We've changed behavior around drinking and driving. For example, in the 1950s, it used to be common place to have one more drink before you got in your car and got on the road, and now that type of behavior is not acceptable today."
In 75% of school shootings, the shooter obtained the firearm from their home or relative's home so a practical solution gunowners can do is make sure firearms are locked up and inaccessible to minors.
And as the data becomes clearer over time, more solutions will develop.
"We can find common ground around what is reasonable to implement to reduce these types of events from occurring without restricting legal gun ownership or restricting people who own guns in a safe way," said Carter.
As researchers study these types of events more and more, they can identify more risk factors to prevent them from happening.
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