Active Shooters In 2018: Key Stats And Facts

In 2017, there were 29 active shooter events in the United States.

Such incidents can occur anywhere and at any time, which is why knowing some key active shooter statistics will help you better prepare your organization.

Active Shooters Vs. Mass Shooters

An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined or populated area. In most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly.

The assailant becomes a mass shooter once the number of injured and/or dead reaches four (excluding the shooter). The statistics can fluctuate because some institutions and databases do not consider shootings that include gang-related killings or killings that involve the death of multiple family members to be mass shootings.

Frequently Targeted Locations

We cannot predict where an active shooter will strike next, but we can look to recent events and statistics for indications. Active shooter events most commonly occur in businesses (45%), schools (25%), and government facilities (10%).

Furthermore, studies have shown that shooters tend to focus on soft targets, said active shooter training expert Jason Bryant in a recent AlertFind webinar. “Soft targets are easily accessed locations with a high density of people, and a lack of controlled access or security,” Bryant said.

Recent examples include church shootings in Sutherland, Texas (2017) and Charleston, South Carolina (2015) and last year's Las Vegas outdoor concert – the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. analyzed 192 active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2015. It found that business locations were the site of more than half of all events, with 98. Schools had the second-highest amount of active shootings (44 events). There were 32 active shootings that took place in public venues. There were eight active shootings that occurred in churches and seven that occurred within medical facilities during this time period. Military bases experienced three active shootings.

Types Of Weapons Used

An active shooter will use weapons that will wreak the most havoc and increase the body count. ActiveShooterData found that pistols were the most popular weapon, and often more than one was used; this means the shooter could have used both a pistol and a rifle.

The AR-15 rifle has grown in popularity and was used in the Las Vegas shooting; the shooter used a bump stock to enable rapid fire. However, Bryant pointed out that rifles are “only used about 26 percent of the time,” or nearly half as frequently as pistols.

U.S. Has The Most Active Shooter Events

The U.S. has a staggeringly high number of active and mass shooter incidents when compared to other developed nations. In fact, the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health released a study in 2016 that found the U.S. had more public mass shootings than any other of the 170 nations investigated.

The study warned that the U.S. and other nations with high firearm ownership rates may be particularly susceptible to future public mass shootings, even if they are relatively peaceful or mentally healthy according to other national indicators.

How Active Shooter Incidents End

Active shooter incidents typically end in one of four ways:

  • The shooter commits suicide
  • The shooter and law enforcement exchanged gunfire
  • Unarmed citizens successfully restrained the shooter
  • Armed citizens exchanged gunfire

According to the FBI's analysis of 160 active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2013, suicide and gunfire exchange with law enforcement end 70% of the events. More than 13% of the cases ended due to the intervention of unarmed civilians.

It seems that these brave people – knowingly or not – initiated the “Fight and Counterattack” action of the Evade, Shelter and Barricade, And Fight and Counterattack active shooter plan. In this plan, you launch an unexpected counter attack, sending the assailant into fight, flee or freeze mode. You could stop and detain the shooter or just scare him off with your actions.

This is exactly what riders did on the Long Island Railroad in 1993, when a shooter started randomly firing at passengers while the train was in motion. While the shooter reloaded, three the passengers realized they had one chance to stop the attack and tackled and subdued him until police could board and arrest him.

Before attacking, look around your surroundings for an improvised weapon. Coffee pots, scissors, canned food, staplers or other heavy objects all make good weapons. Make a pact with your colleagues that you’ll work together to attack the shooter if you’re ever in an active shooter situation.

By developing and rehearsing a comprehensive active shooter plan, you can better protect your employees from an active shooter event.

For more expert advice on how to protect your organization, watch our recent webinar, “Active Shooter Preparedness: Life-Saving Strategies From A Law Enforcement Expert."

You are well on your way toward protecting your staff and organization.

Take the next step toward protecting your organization by learning more about emergency notification systems and the vital role they play in your emergency preparedness plan.