John Lott analysis: FBI active shooter reports, media slight civilians stopping violent attacks
The Federal Bureau of Investigations' active shooting reports from 2014 to 2022 are severely flawed, according to an analysis by the Crime Prevent Research Center.
The FBI had reported that only 4.6% of attacks were stopped by civilians. However, according to CPRC president John R. Lott Jr, at least 35.7% of those attacks were stopped by civilians.
In 2022 alone, that figure is 41.3%, and excluding gun-free zones, it averaged higher than 63.5%.
From the center's article:
Evidence compiled by the Crime Prevention Research Center shows that the sources the media relied on undercounted the number of instances in which armed citizens have thwarted such attacks by an order of more than ten, saving untold numbers of lives. Of course, law-abiding citizens stopping these attacks are not rare. What is rare is national news coverage of those incidents.
The politicization of crime data
“The FBI data on active shootings is missing so many defensive gun uses that it’s hard to believe it isn’t intentional. Errors can happen, but the failure to fix past reports shows a troubling disregard for the truth”#2a https://t.co/SwtcS3SANg
— John R Lott Jr. (@JohnRLottJr) August 31, 2023
The article continues:
Between 2014 and 2022, citizens stopped 104 out of 204 potential or actual mass shootings where we could identify that guns were allowed in the area. So 51% of attacks were stopped by people legally carrying concealed handguns. Again, the most recent data is most accurate, and for 2022, 63.5% of the attacks were stopped in areas where people were clearly allowed to carry.
The numbers indicate If we didn’t have gun-free zones, we would have more people stopping these attacks.
The FBI reports that armed citizens only stopped 14 of the 302 active shooter incidents it identified for the period 2014-2022. The FBI defines active shooter incidents as those in which an individual actively kills or attempts to kill people in a populated, public area. But it does not include those it deems related to other criminal activity, such as a robbery or fighting over drug turf.
An analysis by the CPRC identified a total of 440 active shooter incidents during that period and found that an armed citizen stopped 157. A previous report looked at only instances when armed civilians stopped what likely would have been mass public shootings. There were another 27 cases that we didn’t include where armed civilians stopped armed attacks, but the suspect didn’t fire his gun. Those cases are excluded from our calculations, though it could be argued that a civilian also stopped what likely could have been an active shooting event.
Not only do media outlets misreport the figures; they also have shown little interest in covering stories of civilians stopping attacks, according to the story.
Professor Carl Moody, the center's research director, took note:
"The media and gun control advocates always seem concerned with the worst possible outcomes when firearms are involved. We know that armed citizens do, in fact, stop active shooters. And while there’s a possibility of a bystander getting hurt, the data put together by the CPRC show that an armed citizen has yet to accidentally shoot an innocent bystander. We also know that the police have accidentally shot the hero citizen just once. That was in Colorado on June 21, 2021. That’s not something that would normally happen, because the police usually arrive long after the incident is resolved.“
The article highlighted an important fact from law enforcement's perspective:
In March 2013, PoliceOne surveyed its 380,000 active-duty and 70,000 retired law enforcement officer members. Eighty-six percent of members believed that casualties from mass public school shootings could be reduced or “avoided altogether” if citizens had carried permitted concealed handguns in those places. Seventy-seven percent supported “arming teachers and/or school administrators who volunteer to carry at their school.” No other policy to protect children and school staff had such widespread support.
The center's full article includes supporting evidence and gives numerous specific examples of misreporting. Read the full in-depth article here.
Joe D. "Buck" Ruth is a longtime small-game hunter and gun owner who spent nearly three decades in the news industry.