U.S. government agencies (including the White House and law enforcement agencies) define an active shooter as an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. The FBI notes that "implicit in this definition is that the subject’s criminal actions involve the use of firearms." Because some incidents involved two or more shooters, and some took place outside, for the purpose of this study the FBI expanded the definition of active shooter incidents to include incidents with more than one shooter and incidents that occurred outside of a building. The report further notes that
"This is not a study of mass killings or mass shootings, but rather a study of a specific type of shooting situation law enforcement and the public may face. Incidents identified in this study do not encompass all gun-related situations; therefore caution should be taken when using this information without placing it in context. Specifically, shootings that resulted from gang or drug violence [...] were not included in this study. In addition, other gun-related shootings were not included when those incidents appeared generally not to have put others in peril (e.g., the accidental discharge of a firearm in a school building or a person who chose to publicly commit suicide in a parking lot). The study does not encompass all mass killings or shootings in public places and therefore is limited in its scope."
Working with data from official police records, FBI records, and open sources, the FBI identified 160 active shooter incidents between 2000-2013.
- The 160 incidents produced 1,043 casualties (not including the shooters): 486 people were killed, and 557 were wounded.
- The average number of incidents more than doubled over the period: an average of 6.4 incidents occurred in the first 7 years studied, and an average of 16.4 occurred in the last 7 years.
- 70 percent of the incidents occurred in either a commerce/business or educational environment.
- Shootings occurred in 40 of 50 states and the District of Columbia.
- 67 percent of the incidents ended before police arrived.
- In 64 incidents (40 percent), the crime would have fallen within the federal definition of "mass killing" (defined as "three or more" killed).
- 6 of the shooters were female.
- In 64 incidents (40 percent), the shooters committed suicide; 54 shooters did so at the scene of the crime.
- In 64 incidents where the duration of the incident could be ascertained, 44 (69 percent) of 64 incidents ended in 5 minutes or less, with 23 ending in 2 minutes or less.
- The majority of the 160 incidents (56.3 percent) ended on the shooter's initiative—sometimes when the shooter committed suicide or stopped shooting, and other times when the shooter fled the scene.
- The study identified 21 (13.1 percent) of 160 incidents where unarmed citizens made the selfless and deeply personal choices to face the danger of an active shooter. In those instances, the citizens safely and successfully disrupted the shootings. In 11 of those 21 incidents, unarmed principals, teachers, other school staff and students confronted the shooters to end the threat. In 10 incidents, citizens, working or shopping when the shootings began, successfully restrained shooters until police could arrive. And in 6 other incidents, armed off-duty police officers, citizens, and security guards risked their lives to successfully end the threat.
Generational Trends in Attitudes about Gun Ownership: A Data-Driven Learning Guide (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3448)
Pew Interactive Tools: Gun Rights versus Gun Control (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3888)
Gun Violence in America (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3864)
Crime Victimization in the US: A Data-Driven Learning Guide (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3437)
Indicators of School Crime And Safety (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3878)
CrimeStat III (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3055)
Federal Law Enforcement Statistics (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3263)
Crime and Victims Statistics (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3261)
Fear of Crime (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3155)