Violence at school often involves the use of weapons. Traditionally, weapons prohibited on school grounds referred to firearms and explosives, but recently, many states have widened these guidelines. For example, in Kansas, weapons include firearms, explosive devices, bludgeons, metal knuckles, throwing stars, electronic stun guns, specific types of knives (such as switchblades and butterfly knives), and any weapon that “expels a projectile by the action of an explosive” (e.g., gunpowder). Other states have gone much further than these specifications. Georgia defines weapons in its school laws as items complying with these descriptions:
any pistol, revolver, or any weapon designed or intended to propel a missile of any kind, or any dirk, bowie knife, switchblade knife, ballistic knife, any other knife having a blade of three or more inches, straight-edge razor, razor blade, spring stick, metal knuckles, blackjack, any bat, club, or other bludgeon-type weapon, or any flailing instrument consisting of two or more rigid parts connected in such a manner as to allow them to swing freely, which may be known as a nun chahka, nun chuck, nunchaku, shuriken, or fighting chain, or any disc, of whatever configuration, having at least two points or pointed blades which is designed to be thrown or propelled and which may be known as a throwing star or oriental dart, or any weapon of like kind, and any stun gun or taser (Code 1-33).
The only instances in which all states allow weapons and firearms on school property are when individuals are authorized to do so; for example, school police officers may be armed and teachers having instructional purposes. Many people wonder how many youth have access to weapons. Recent data indicate that about 30 percent of young individuals own a firearm (Brezina & Wright, 2000). Further, a national study conducted by the Center for Disease Control revealed that in 1997 about one-fifth of high school students reported carrying a weapon to school.