Schools across the country experienced a “dramatic uptick” in threats of school-related violence following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in February 2018. One set of researchers reported that in the thirty days after the Parkland shooting, threats and incidents of violence in schools nationally increased by more than 300 percent–from an average of 13.2 threats and incidents per day to 59.4 per day. The national trend played out in North Carolina as well, with schools in several North Carolina counties responding to several reported threats of violence in the weeks following the Parkland massacre. When such threats were made, it wasn’t always clear whether they amounted to a crime. The actions often were a poor fit for the two most obvious candidates: communicating threats (because the threat was not always communicated to the person threatened) and making a false report concerning mass violence on educational property (because it wasn’t always clear that the person who made the threat had made a report that the person knew to be false).
The General Assembly responded last June to this gap in the criminal code by enacting a new crime, communicating a threat of mass violence on educational property, effective for offenses committed on or after December 1, 2018.