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Errors In FBI Reports Show Agency Has Been Undercounting Active Shooter Incidents Stopped By Armed Civilians

In places where guns are allowed, armed citizens stopped more than 63% of potential or actual mass shootings in 2022

New analysis shows that the FBI has severely undercounted the number of active shooter situations where the assailant was stopped by a law abiding citizen carrying a firearm.

According to an FBI report, over the period from 2014 through 2022, armed citizens stopped only 4.6 percent of active shooter incidents.

However, new analysis from the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) shows that figure is actually 35.7 percent.

The organization says that the number of instances where armed citizens thwarted such attacks is undercounted by an order of more than ten.

“Of course, law-abiding citizens stopping these attacks are not rare,” CPRC says in the report. “What is rare is national news coverage of those incidents.”

CPRC says that the FBI defines active shooter incidents as those where an person actively kills or attempts to kill people in a populated, public area. The nation’s top law enforcement agency, however, does not include incidents it concludes are related to other criminal activity, like robbery or fighting over drug turf.

Two factors account for the discrepancies in the FBI’s data: misclassified shootings, and overlooked incidents.

In several incidents, CPRC’s report shows, the Bureau included in detailed write-ups that law abiding citizens with firearm permits confronted violent attackers, causing the assailants to flee. But, the FBI failed to list those cases a incidents stopped by armed citizens because the police later apprehended the shooters.

In other incidents, the FBI misidentified civilians as armed security personnel, and in another simply didn’t mention a gun-toting civilian stopped the attack.

Concerning overlooked cases, “the FBI, more significantly, missed 35 incidents identified by CPRC where what would likely have been a mass public shooting was thwarted by armed civilians,” the group says. “There were another 103 active shooting incidents that they missed.”

The report also finds that local gun control policies are having a negative impact on these figures.

Roughly half of these attacks occur where firearms are banned, so law-abiding people who obey those rules aren’t able to stop the attacks.

And, as per the report, the FBI’s active shooting reports don’t mention if the attacks occur in gun-free zones.

“The issue is that when places are posted as gun-free zones, law-abiding citizens obey those rules and would be unable to stop the attacks in those areas,” adds Carl Moody, a professor at William & Mary and the CPRC’s research director.

In places where guns are allowed, armed citizens stopped a much higher number of attacks (63.5 percent of potential or actual mass shootings in 2022).

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