Active Shooter Incidents Increased by 90 Percent in Latest 5-Year Period, FBI Report Finds

Rachel Acenas
By Rachel Acenas
June 25, 2024US News
Active Shooter Incidents Increased by 90 Percent in Latest 5-Year Period, FBI Report Finds
Law enforcement officers outside Central Maine Medical Center during an active shooter situation in Lewiston, Maine, on Oct. 25, 2023. (Steven Senne/AP Photo)

Active shooter incidents increased nearly 90 percent in the period from 2019 to 2023 compared to the previous five years, according to a report released by the FBI on Monday.

The agency identified 229 active shooter incidents in the past five years, compared with 121 in the 2014–2018 period, the study revealed.

The data do not encompass all gun-related incidents across the country, said the FBI, which defines an active shooter as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.” The data also exclude shootings in which someone was acting in self-defense, drug or gang-related violence, or other criminal activity.

The report’s findings are intended to “help law enforcement, first responders and the public to better understand the levels of threats associated with active shooter incidents,” the federal agency said in a statement.

While the report found a significant increase in active shootings over the latest five-year period, the FBI pointed out slight year-over-year improvements, specifically a decrease in 2023 compared to 2022. Last year saw 48 active shooter incidents, compared to 50 the previous year. The agency also identified a slight decrease in “mass casualty” events last year compared to the year before.

“I believe the decrease is a result of focusing on preventative measures more,” retired SWAT commander Gene Petrino told NTD in a statement. “I am seeing more and more reports of law enforcement apprehending individuals who have made credible threats before the attack occurs. This is what’s needed and I expect this focus to become the norm.”

President Barack Obama in 2013 signed into law the Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2012, which prompted the FBI to investigate active shooter incidents since 2000. The agency collaborated with the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University to collect the data.

“The focus of the report encourages media, law enforcement, and public information officers to shift their focus from the perpetrators of active shooter incidents toward the victims, survivors, and heroes who stopped them, as well as the communities that come together to help in the healing process,” the report states.

The FBI designated 48 situations as active shooter incidents across 26 states in 2023. Those shootings took place in 26 states, with California topping the list with the most incidents, followed by Texas and Washington.

There were 244 known victims of active shooters last year, including 139 individuals who were injured and 105 killed, according to the data. Among those, 12 law enforcement officers were injured and two killed.

The report also found that open spaces such as outdoor venues and neighborhoods were the most common locations of the shootings. In 2023, three active shooters targeted schools, killing 12 people and wounding seven others.

The single highest-casualty active shooting incident of 2023 was the attack in Lewiston, Maine, according to FBI data, in which the shooter killed 18 people and injured 13 others.