Active Shooter Incidents are Increasing and Training is Paramount

With yet another tragic shooting at an Oregon community college this week, it seems fitting to examine active shooter situations and statistics, as well as, consider preparedness. In this two part series we will glean information from FBI reports and conclude with some tips for surviving an active shooter event.

Let us first define the term “active shooter” which, according to the FBI, is a situation involving “an individual or individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.” An active shooter incident does not necessarily meet the criteria of a “mass killing” which according to the new federal definition involves at least three fatalities.

A study by the FBI analyzing shootings between 2000 and 2013 found that active shooting events are on the rise. The first seven years of the study reported an average of 6.4 active shootings per year, while the last seven years saw that number increase to 16.4 incidents per year—that is one active shooter event in the U.S. every three weeks.

The study breaks down where these incidents occur. Nearly half of the shootings took place at businesses or malls. Almost a quarter happened at schools and universities. Another 10% took place on government property.

It is also worth noting that domestic violence correlates had a significant impact in which shooters targeted current, estranged, or former wives as well as current or former girlfriends. In these cases, while perpetrating this violence, an additional 42 bystanders were killed and 28 others wounded.

Some of the most interesting details the study highlights are those related to timing. Among the shootings where the duration could be ascertained, 69% were over in five minutes or less, while 36% were over in two minutes or less. (These figures mirror previous studies on violent encounters compiled by the FBI where more than 90% of attacks are under five minutes in duration.) The vast majority of these shootings are over before police arrive on the scene.

Several weeks ago, CJ Kirk wrote an article entitled No One is Coming – Save Yourself Before Time Runs Out which supports statements made by the FBI report’s authors, “Even when law enforcement was present or able to respond within minutes, civilians often had to make life and death decisions, and, therefore, should be engaged in training and discussions on decisions they may face.”

We couldn’t agree more.

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