ST. LOUIS — Kelsey Cundiff remembers hiding in her middle school classroom during active shooter drills. Now, she studies violence.
"It's a problem that we've been having that is not seeming to go away anytime soon," said Cundiff, an assistant professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Over the years, she said change has been minimal.
"It's mostly been these school security measures," said Cundiff.
Cundiff calls it "reactionary."
"It's also kind of putting the onus for solving this problem on these teachers and the schools and the children," she said.
"What is the root cause of this problem, guns in schools?" asked I-Team reporter Paula Vasan.
"It's access to guns and then also mental health. And I think both are definitely at play," she said.
It's a topic she teaches as a criminology professor at the University of Missouri St. Louis. And it's top of mind after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school.
We wanted to understand the history of guns in schools in our area. We analyzed data on school shootings since 1970 using the K-12 School Shooting Database. It’s managed by The Center for Homeland Defense and Security.
The database documents when a gun is brandished is fired, or a bullet hits school property for any reason, regardless of the number of victims, time of day, or day of the week.
We only included incidents of school shootings when they happened during school hours or at school events.
In Missouri, the numbers show that 14 people have been shot to death at school over the past 50 years. About 30 people have been injured
The most common weapon? A handgun.
"Rather than, you know, something like a shotgun or a rifle or AR15 things like that," said Cundiff.
The majority of shootings were sparked by school fights like what happened in December of 2016 in St. Louis: a "Fight over a $5 debt."
"Majority of them were like 14- to 16-year-olds," she said.
In Illinois, the numbers are higher. Cundiff said that's not surprising since the population is twice that of Missouri.
During the same five decades, 32 people have been shot to death at schools in Illinois — another 100 people injured.
These results are based on just one source of data.