U.S. News & World Report
By Lauren Fox,
Shootings occur everywhere from movie theaters to schools.
The number of active shooter situations in the United States is on the rise, according to a report released Thursday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The report finds that between 2000 and 2013, there have been 160 active shooter scenarios. In the 14-year period, 557 people have been wounded and 486 people have been killed. Yet in the first seven years studied by researchers, there were 6.4 incidences annually on average. Between 2007 and 2013, the annual average jumped to 16.4 incidences a year.
The report looked at many high-profile shooting sprees, including the attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut where 20 first graders were killed. The FBI’s intention is to create a database to study active shooting incidents over time. The hope is that the FBI can discern trends from the data to combat the crimes.
In addition to tracking the number of casualties, the FBI found that all but two of the shootings featured a single shooter. The agency also noted that while most of the gunmen were male, at least six episodes involved a female shooter. The FBI noted other troubling trends from the data including the number of shooters who commit suicide after carrying out an attack. In 64 percent of cases,shooters killed themselves sometimes before police even arrived on the scene. It is also noted in nine of the cases, gunmen murdered a family member before committing larger attacks.
The study found one major obstacle to stemming the casualty toll is that 60 percent of the shootings lasted fewer than 5 minutes.
The FBI notes that shootings remain unpredictable. There are no geographical trends within the data. They noted shootings happened “in small and large towns, in urban and rural areas and in 40 of 50 states and the District of Columbia.” Shootings occurred at military bases, schools, movie theaters, hair salons and other private businesses.
Experts are divided about how state and federal laws might stem the incidences of gun violence, but gun control advocates say this report makes a clear case for the need to strengthen background checks and ensure that people who have serious mental health issues cannot get access to firearms.
“Background check laws are probably the single most important laws when it comes to reducing gun violence,” says Allison Anderman, an attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Anderman says this report shows that laws to keep domestic abusers and people with mental illness from getting guns could have a significant impact.
The National Rifle Association, which has advocated against expanding national background checks, has argued that there are already strong enough laws on the books.
The NRA did not immediately return a request for comment.