Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a Wednesday interview with PolicyMic that although President Obama has had his share of tough days over the past couple of years, there is one that stands out in particular.
"He talks about Sandy Hook as being the worst day of his presidency."
School shootings, Duncan said, are "by far the hardest issue we deal with. ... We've been able to accomplish nothing legislatively." According to an analysis published on Feb. 12, in the 14 months since Sandy Hook, there have been 44 school shootings in the United States.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action jointly released the report, which classifies a school shooting as an incident in which a firearm is discharged inside a school building or on school or campus grounds, as documented in public news accounts. The 44 shootings — which took place between Dec. 15, 2012 and Feb. 10, 2014 — include fatal and nonfatal assaults, suicides and unintentional shootings.
The incidents reportedly resulted in 28 fatalities: 19 homicides and nine suicides.
Twenty-eight of the shootings occurred in a K-12 school; 16 were in a college or university. The youngest shooter, whose firearm discharged accidentally inside his backpack at his elementary school in Memphis, Tenn., was 5 years old. No one was killed or injured. The oldest shooter, who killed two people in West Palm Beach, Florida, was 53. The deadliest incident occurred at Santa Monica College on June 7, when five people were killed.
Although the map and list below include only shootings that occurred specifically on school grounds, Duncan emphasized, "This is not a schools problem; this is a societal problem" —one with "devastating, devastating impact." But schools cannot be "inoculated from society," he said.
Duncan, who has two young children of his own, said that during his years as CEO of public schools in Chicago, children were shot and killed far too frequently. "I can't tell you how many homes I went to, how many funerals I went to, how many classrooms I walked into with an empty desk."
Gun violence is an appalling problem particular to the U.S. "Other countries just don't have this," Duncan said. He cites the access and availability of guns as the primary cause. To him, there's no excuse for not keeping our children safer. "We can love the Second Amendment and still keep our babies safe," he said. "We have not had the courage to protect our babies."
For many people, it's outrageous and disappointing that Sandy Hook didn't incite national change that they hoped it would. So Duncan posed a question that was equally as appropriate as it was upsetting:
"What will it take?"
SCHOOL SHOOTINGS, DEC. 15, 2012 - FEB. 10, 2014