In a May 25, 2018, article in National Review, David French reviews a recent FBI report on active shooters showing that an increasing number were thwarted or lessened by an armed citizen (links below). There’s no escaping the sad fact we’re facing a disturbing trend of active shootings in this country. But, encouragingly, as French notes, armed citizens are part of the solution, not the problem.
There were 50 active-shootings in 2016 and 2017 (i.e., one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area). These incidents resulted in 221 people killed and 943 casualties. These numbers are up significantly from an annual average of 11.4 incidents between 2000 and 2013.
Interestingly, the number that also increased was interventions by an armed citizen in 2016-2017 period:
“From 2000 to 2013, only five times did an armed citizen (who was not a police officer) exchange fire with the shooter. Three times the citizen killed the shooter, once the shooter committed suicide, and once the shooter was wounded. Fast forward to 2016-2017. In that time period, six armed citizens confronted active shooters. They stopped the shooting four times (in one case, the shooter fled to a different site and continued shooting, and in the other the armed citizen was wounded before he could stop the shooting,” according to French.
For houses of worship, these numbers should give renewed focus on “minding the gap” — the interval from when an active shooting begins until law enforcement arrives to engage the shooter. This critical void can be filled by highly trained and vigilant armed safety team members. The reality is that police officers are not likely to be in the immediate vicinity when an active shooting starts. So the gap must be filled by trained citizens if the disturbing trend line of active shooters is to be bent downward any time soon.