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A Good Read on Active Shooters

May 12, 2023
Mike Sampson

A friend pointed me toward a 33-page April 2023 document titled “Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2022,” and it contains valuable insights.

Since the start of 2023, the Gun Violence Archive noted there have been more than 200 “mass shootings,” but how that term is defined varies by the information source. The May 6 shooting at an outlet mall in Texas left nine dead and multiple injuries.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in collaboration with the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University, wrote the report.

As we have seen just this year, there are multiple active-shooter incidents across the USA. Being aware of such incidents, the targeted places, causes and circumstances, is a solid safeguard.

In 2022, the FBI designated 50 shootings as active-shooter incidents. Although incidents decreased by 18% from 2021 (61 incidents), the number of active shooter incidents increased by 66.7% compared to 2018 (30 incidents).

Thirteen incidents met the federal definition for a mass killing incident (three or more victims).

Keep in mind that: This report does not encompass all gun-related incidents. A gun-related incident was excluded if research established it was the result of:

• Self-defense
• Gang violence
• Drug violence
• Contained residential or domestic disputes
• Controlled barricade/hostage situations
• Crossfire as a byproduct of another ongoing criminal act
• An action that appeared not to have put other people in peril.

Other facts in the 2022 report include:

·      Of the 50 shooters, 47 (94%) were male, one was female, one was nonbinary, and one was unidentified.
·      Shooters were between the ages of 15 and 70 years old.
·      In 50 incidents, 61 firearms were used by shooters—29 handguns, 26 rifles, three shot­guns, and three unknown.
·      There were two incidents that involved snipers.
·      Four shooters wore body armor.
·      Twenty-nine shooters were apprehended by law enforcement, seven were killed by law enforcement, two were killed by armed citi­zens, nine committed suicide, and three remain at large.
·      In 48% of the incidents, the shooter had a known connection to the location and/or at least one victim, whereas in 52% of incidents, there was no known connection identified.

Also interesting in the report is that in eight (16%) of the incidents, citizen intervention and/or confrontation of the shooter resulted in the end of the incident. And in the national news recently, an armed citizen killed the shooter as he began firing in a mall food court.  Indeed, there are CCW citizens who can defend themselves and others.

The report also noted that in 2022, the 50 active shooter incidents occurred in seven location categories including open space, commerce, residence, education, government, house of worship, and health care. In 17 inci­dents (34%), the shooter fired weapons in multi­ple locations (open space and commerce). These seem to be likely locations for many of us nowadays.

As I have written often for Gun Talk, we need to look at “gun violence” vs. “criminal violence.” This FBI report provides an enlightening look at both, and is worth reading. Hopefully, none of us will have to face an active shooter. But wrong places, wrong times do happen. Always expect the unexpected as active shooter incidents are unpredictable in many cases.

However, understanding more about active-shooter incidents and causes and maintaining your situational awareness are key ways to Stay safe, be prepared. ~ Mike

Mike Sampson
Mike now calls Northwestern Arkansas home but has lived and worked in several states and internationally. He has been an independent contractor and consultant since 2006 specializing in risk management, emergency management and training. In addition to work as a law-enforcement planner and technical writer with the Boise, Idaho, Police Department, he has experience in journalism, crop and animal agriculture, dryland farming for 20 years in western Kansas, plant and animal diseases, pandemic influenza, agroterrorism, bioterrorism, food safety and healthcare marketing.

He has a journalism degree from the University of Missouri and has newspaper and agency writing and editing experience. At Washington State University in Pullman, he earned a master’s degree emphasizing adult education and communications.

While living in Lander, WY, Mike provided photographic coverage of the One-Shot Antelope Hunt for three years, and got to meet and accompany folks such as Chuck Yeager, Carroll Shelby, Buzz Aldrin, Dale Robertson and Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf on their hunts. He also worked as an outfitter’s guide.


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