Gun violence is becoming a growing concern at high school football games across the United States. According to the K-12 School Shooting Database, there have been at least 16 shootings this season alone, resulting in two deaths and 13 injuries. Additionally, two incidents involved a stampede and gunfire, respectively, during games. Criminologist David Riedman, founder of the database, described this trend as alarming, with similar incidents occurring at least once a week during the previous season.
Karissa Niehoff, executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations, expressed her sadness and concern over the escalating violence, stating that it is the worst she has witnessed in her 35 years of involvement in education and sports. Niehoff also highlighted the challenge of addressing security concerns during large-scale events like football games, where securing venues can be more difficult compared to school buildings.
Insufficient security measures have been identified as a common factor in these incidents. Riedman emphasized the need for improved security protocols and training at high school football games, as it is often unclear who is responsible for ensuring safety. He also noted that the violence is not limited to states with lax gun laws, citing an example of two students being shot leaving a game in Chicago.
While no planned attacks on high school football games have been reported, Riedman stated that the violence typically stems from disputes that escalate due to the presence of firearms. He also highlighted the challenges faced by law enforcement in handling such situations in stadiums, where confusion and innocent bystander injuries can occur.
Efforts to enhance security at these events include implementing stricter entry checks and prohibiting certain items like backpacks and fanny packs. Some schools have also limited attendance to students accompanied by parents. However, the issue of securing large venues like football stadiums remains a significant challenge.
In conclusion, the increasing incidents of gun violence at high school football games across the United States have raised concerns about the safety of participants and spectators. The need for improved security measures and training has become evident as schools and sports associations grapple with finding effective solutions to address this alarming trend.