The results aren’t very surprising, given years of warnings from anti-bullying advocates. As Mother Jones points out, StopBullying.gov previously indicated that 12 of 15 school shootings in the 1990s involved perpetrators with a history of being bullied. It’s worth mentioning, however, that the data shows correlation, not causation. It’s possible, for example, that people who carry weapons are more likely to fall into conflicts that lead to bullying. In those circumstances, weapons might not be carried for protection as much as aggression.
The data also doesn’t exclude other risk factors, such as mental illness or easy access to guns, from playing a role in school shootings. It’s unexplained in the study, for instance, how these students obtained weapons in the first place.
Scott Shackford fears that this finding will be used to justify more oppressive school policies:
Researchers estimate based on the poll that 200,000 teens being bullied are bringing weapons to school. … But if all these students are carrying weapons and yet there aren’t hundreds of thousands of incidences of school violence by bullying victims every day, what is the actual extent of the problem versus the fearmongering? Schools already have their terrible zero tolerance rules that have resulted in all sorts of twisted outcomes for stupid reasons. It’s easy to imagine misguided, indifferent school administrators responding to the study by exposing the bullied students to increased scrutiny, all in the guise of protecting student safety. That could have the additional impact of causing students to be even less likely to report harassment.