Anger Management, Community Awareness, Education, For Parents, Gun Control, Mass Killings, School Shootings

Gun Violence in Higher Education: Etiology, Reactions, and Interventions

stop-gun-violence-shows-brute-force-and-clipart_csp31369910Given the events at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, April 30, 2019, we thought to repost this article would be appropriate.

Note: This article is an updated reproduction of an unpublished manuscript entitled Gun Violence in Higher Education: Etiology, Reactions, and Interventions that Pam wrote in 2003 while in graduate school at Morehead State University. With the advent of a new school year where violence is likely to occur somewhere sometime on a college or university campus, we thought it appropriate to share the article. Pam also has added an Addendum to the original paper with current research statistics and additional information.

Written by Pamela K. Orgeron, M.A., Ed.S., BCCC, ACLC, Author


Gun violence on campuses of higher educational institutions has become a more prevalent problem according to research (Clayton, 2002; U. S. Department of Education, 2003). “Until 10 years ago people didn’t think crime happened on college campuses—an image that schools certainly wanted to project,” says S. Daniel Carter of Security on Campus, a nonprofit group that promotes university safety (Clayton, 2002, p. 3).

The Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act passed by Congress in November 1990 required all colleges and universities with students receiving federal funding to begin releasing current statistics on crime, effective September 1, 1992 (Griffaton, 1993). Since the passage of the aforementioned federal act, Franke (2003) reported five on-campus shootings of faculty and administrators from 1991 to 2002. In November 1991 at the University of Iowa an upset PhD recipient murdered three professors, an administrator, a student, and wounded another student. The situation ended with the perpetrator committing suicide.

In August 1996 at San Diego State University a master’s degree candidate fatally wounded three engineering professors before surrendering to campus security. Four years later a graduate student in English at the University of Arkansas (UA) killed a professor of comparative literature before ending his own life.

Franke (2003) reported two on-campus shootings in 2003. A failing student at Appalachian School of Law murdered a dean, a professor, a student, and wounded three other students. Another student who was failing in the nursing program at the University of Arizona killed three nursing professors before committing suicide.

Statistics show the year 2000 with the greatest increase of murders on college campuses. The U. S. Department of Education (2003) reported the number of on-campus murders went from 11 in 1999 to 19 in 2000.

Franke (2003) reports the most violent shooting on a campus is the shooting spree by Charles Whitman in 1966 from the University of Texas—Austin Tower. Sixteen people died in this shooting. Whitman also wounded at least 30 other individuals.

Given the above outlined incidents of gun violence on college campuses, the author of this paper reviewed research about shootings on campuses of higher educational institutions, including etiologies, consequences, interventions/treatment methods of survivors, and preventive measures. Additionally, the author chose to examine gun violence on college campuses to avoid the optimistic bias.

The optimistic bias, according to Chapin and Coleman (2003), is thinking that a shooting cannot happen on one’s campus. Morehead State University Chief of Police Joseph S. Cline (personal interview, September 30, 2003) gave no report of any shootings on the MSU campus. Although, Cline reported “there have been several incidents where students had been stopped for DUI’s, and guns were found in the car.” Additionally, MSU crime statistics from the The Michael Minger Act Report for 2003 (MSU Police Department, 2003a) reveal 22 terroristic threatening incidents on campus. Updated statistics can be found in the 2013 Michael Minger Campus Security Act Report.

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