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FBI Active Shooter Report: Citizens with Guns Save Lives


An FBI study covering active shooter incidents in 2016 and 2017 includes numbers showing that ordinary citizens' "selfless actions likely saved many lives".


The study shows the value of citizens engaging in their own self-defense.


Armed and unarmed citizens engaged the shooter in 10 incidents. They safely and successfully ended the shootings in eight of those incidents,” the report said. “Their selfless actions likely saved many lives.


“The enhanced threat posed by active shooters and the swiftness with which active shooter incidents unfold support the importance of preparation by law enforcement officers and citizens alike.”


FBI Study: Active Shootings by the Numbers


The FBI study cites 50 active shooter incidents in 21 states for both 2016 and 2017. Interestingly, the FBI defines an "active shooter" as one or more individuals actively engaging in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area. This is important to note since only 20 of the 50 incidents qualify as "mass shootings". The study does not include gang- and drug-related shootings.


Here are the numbers from the active shooter study:


  • 221 people killed.

  • 722 wounded.

  • 12 law enforcement officers killed.

  • 20 law enforcement officers wounded.

  • 14 incidents ended with an exchange of gunfire between the shooters in law-enforcement.

  • 13 shooters committed suicide.

  • 18 shooters apprehended by police.

  • 11 shooters killed by police.

  • 8 shooters stopped by citizens.


FBI Study: Citizen Engagement with Active Shooters


The study includes examples of 10 incidents where citizens confronted the active shooter. In eight of those incidents, "citizens safely and successfully acted to end the shooting".


  • 4 times unarmed citizens confronted or persuaded the criminal to stop shooting.

  • 4 times armed citizens stopped the shooter (2 times armed citizens exchanged gunfire with the shooter and 2 times armed citizens held the shooter at gun point until law enforcement arrived.)

  • 1 time an armed citizen exchanged gunfire with the shooter causing the criminal to flee to another scene and continue shooting.

  • 1 time an armed citizen was wounded before he could fire at the shooter.


FBI Study: Conclusions


  • All of the active shooters were male and ranged in age from 14 to 66.

  • 3 incidents were responsible for the casualty numbers being higher than the 2014/2015 study: the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

  • This period saw the highest number of law enforcement casualties since 2000.

  • 10 law enforcement officers were killed and 17 wounded in open spaces when the shooters were moving through streets and between buildings.

  • Armed and unarmed citizens engaged the shooter in 10 incidents. They safely and successfully ended the shootings in 8 of those incidents. Their selfless actions likely saved many lives.

  • The enhanced threat posed by active shooters and the swiftness with which active shooter incidents unfold support the importance of preparation by law enforcement officers and citizens alike.