Forest for the Trees: Examining State Macro-Level Correlates and Incidents of School Gun Violence



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School gun violence and “school shooting” literature has historically and recently been hyper-focused on individual perpetrators and their motivations for committing the offenses. A large number of studies have analyzed factors that are either associated with or that predict the perpetration of school shootings and other forms of gun violence specifically at the individual unit of analysis. Less research has considered meso-level factors in relation to school shootings and gun violence at schools, and even fewer studies have considered macro-level correlates on the same topic. As a consequence, there is a major gap in criminological research that examines school gun violence from a macroscopic perspective. To address this gap, the current study focuses on macro-level correlates and their predictive utility in relation to incidents of school gun violence at the state-level unit of analysis. Given that school gun violence incidents can be nested within time units within individual states, multilevel statistical modelling is used to examine a variety of state-level variables and whether they share an association with aggregate counts of school gun violence incidents within the 50 U.S. states across ten years. The implications of the findings in the context of policy and future research are discussed. Additionally, the limitations of the current study and of school gun violence data are explored, and recommendations for the enhanced collection of school gun violence data and the continued analysis of these data using larger units of analysis are made.



Sociology, Criminology and Penology