Active and Mass Shootings: An Introduction and Overview

Active and Mass Shootings: An Introduction and Overview

Kelli Christine Hardin
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5670-1.ch001
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Serving as an introduction to the book, this chapter reviews the literature and statistics about active and mass shootings. It provides a broad overview of the research on specific causes, occurrences, and responses to large-scale violence in the United States. Though there are clear demographic and biographical patterns among the shooters, more research is necessary, as monocausal, singular approaches fall short in terms of prediction and prevention. Additionally, while police responses have evolved and training for violent events has become more commonplace, there is a clear need for more nuanced research and evaluation on best practices to minimize casualties and prevent these events from occurring.
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Introduciton To The Book

Gun violence in the United States has been a criminological phenomenon that has been present in our culture since the invention of firearms. The issue is important and relevant because the events are devastating and traumatic when they occur. Although mass and active shootings are relatively rare, they have long lasting, rippling effects in our society. These harrowing events may inspire others to commit similar attacks on humanity, and these original and copycat assailants go down in infamy.


Although the public seems to believe that these events happen every other week, overall mass and active shootings are somewhat rare. Krouse and Richardson (2015) conducted a study through the Congressional Research Service on mass murder with firearms from 1999 to 2013. To be transparent, the researchers defined mass shootings as:

a multiple homicide incident in which four or more victims are murdered with firearms—not including the offender(s)—within one event, in one or more public locations, such as a workplace, school, restaurant, house of worship, neighborhood, or other public setting. (Krouse & Richardson, 2015, p. 3)

Using this working definition, the researchers were able to use the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Supplementary Homicide Report to discover that between 1999 and 2013, there were only 65.4 mass shooting incidents, which averages to be about 4.6 mass shootings per year over the 14-year period. Statistically speaking, these devastating incidents do not happen as often as the media portrays (Krouse, & Richardson, 2015).

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