At the current rate, an American high school student faces a risk of being murdered in a school shooting in a year of about 0.0014%.
That’s about one in 71,000.
Based on last year’s crime statistics, the overall probability of a person in the US being murdered in a year is about 0.005%.
That’s about one in 20,000.
Also based on last year’s crime statistics, a citizen of St. Louis, Baltimore, New Orleans, or Detroit — including children in those cities — has a risk of being murdered in a year of about 0.049%.
That’s about one in 2,000.
If the current rate continues, there will be about two dozen school shooters this year — based on a reasonable definition of what constitutes a school shooting. Their total victims will constitute about one half of one percent of all United States homicides.
Overall, in the United States, about 16,000 murders will be committed this year. Most of them — about two-thirds — will be committed by males between the ages of 17 and 35.
The 30 most violent cities in America represent about six percent of the US population but account for about a quarter of all murders.
There is nothing trivial about school shootings, but there is also nothing typical about them. If we wish to reduce their frequency, we have to find ways to reach the last 0.0003% of the male high school population. Put differently, 99.9997% of the young men in our high schools are not in danger of becoming school shooters.
Let’s look at the two dozen who are and try to understand their pathology. But let’s not mistake them for normal. Most of the other 99.5% of murders in the United States this year will be more typical, more predictable, and more preventable.