A new report released by the Federal Bureau of Investigations has shown a dramatic increase in shooting incidents involving the wounding or killing of multiple people. The reportwas prepared with the assistance of Texas State University’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center and used official police records and FBI resources. Titled, "A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013”, the report highlighted a number of high-profile incidents including Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary School, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Fort Hood, the Aurora (Colorado) Cinemark Century 16 movie theater, the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, and the Washington Navy Yard.
The majority of these attacks have occurred at businesses or schools, including universities or other education facillities. Houses of worship and health care facilities are other popular targets. Though the report omitted shootings that were either gang- or drug-related, the 160 "active shooter incidents" occurring between 2000 and 2013 have risen dramatically in recent years. The number of annual shootings has gone from six incidents a year for the first seven years studied to more than sixteen per year during the past seven years studied.
The report is intended to collect data about the attacks to help local police prepare for future incidents as well as potentially identifying shooters before their violence occurs. "These incidents, the large majority of them, are over in minutes. So it's going to have to be a teaching and training of the best tactics, techniques and procedures to our state and local partners," said James F. Yacone, an FBI assistant director who oversees crisis response and was involved in the report. According to Special Agent Katherine Schweit, who heads the FBI’s Active Shooter Initiative, the study “demonstrates the need not only for enhanced preparation on the part of law enforcement and other first responders, but also for civilians to be engaged in discussions and training on decisions they’d have to make in an active shooter situation.”
Along with 486 people being being killed and 557 being wounded in the attacks, about twenty-five percent of the mass shootings ended with the shooter committing suicide. Though 60 percent of the incidents ended before police arrived, in 21 of the 45 incidents where law enforcement had to deal with the shooter to end the threat, nine officers were killed and 28 were wounded. Virtually all of the shooting incidents involved perpetrators acting alone and only six of the shooters were female. While the motives that led to the shootings often remain unknown, many of the shooters appear to act on their violent impulses due to personal grievances. As for why the incidents have been rising in recent years, some behavioural analysts suggest that the rise may be due to vulnerable people being inspired by other shootings and hoping to become notorious themselves.
"The copycat phenomenon is real," said Andre Simons of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit in an interview with The Telegram. "As more and more notable and tragic events occur, we think we're seeing more compromised, marginalized individuals who are seeking inspiration from those past attacks."