Why is the FBI misleading the public about active shooters?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is misleading the public about mass shooter incidents to such an extent that it appears its attempting to forward a political agenda.

Alright, allow me to explain myself and provide you with some evidence so you don’t think I’m blowing hot air.  Last month, the FBI released a study claiming that from 2000 to 2013, “Active shooter incidents are becoming more frequent—the first seven years of the study show an average of 6.4 incidents annually, while the last seven years show 16.4 incidents annually.”

Now, this wasn’t the only finding in the study, but it was certainly the finding that the mainstream media picked up and focused on. The reason this finding made the headlines, though it doesn’t really need to be spelled out, is because by and large the media is sympathetic to the gun-control movement, and the notion that active shooter incidents are becoming more common not only affirms what many gun-control advocates believe it also aids them in pushing an anti-Second Amendment agenda.

Of course, there is a question of whether or not it’s true. Are active shooter situations drastically on the rise?

FBI Stats

FBI stats on active shooters from 2000 to 2013

The short answer is no, not to the extent the FBI would like us to believe. As John Lott, the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, pointed out in an informative article titled “The FBI’s Bogus Report on Mass Shootings,” the reality is “mass public shootings have only risen ever so slightly over the last four decades.”

Lott comes to this conclusion by doing the work that the FBI failed to do. In other words, Lott looks at all the data going back to 1977 whereas the FBI purposely omitted certain incidents in earlier years (starting in 2000) and added non-mass shootings in later years to manufacture the conclusion that it wanted, i.e. active shooter incidents are on the rise.

But Lott is known to be a pro-gun guy. He authored the book, “More Guns, Less Crime,” which is one of the best arguments for the pro-gun cause. With that in mind, one can argue that his reading of the report is biased. So, I did what any reasonable journalist would do, I sought out a second opinion.

Enter James Alan Fox, Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law & Public Policy at Northern University. Fox is certainly not a gun-rights advocate. In the past, he’s expressed support for various gun-control measures, including limiting magazine capacity. I asked Fox what he thought of the FBI’s findings. Here’s what he had to say in an email to GunsAmerica (emphasis added):

“First of all, these are active shooter events, not mass shootings. About one-quarter killed no one, and the majority killed fewer than 3, the newly lowered threshold for mass killing.

Unlike mass killings, there is no routine data source for active shooters. Many were identified by searching news archives, which have expanded in recent years. It is not clear whether the increase in active shooter events is completely related to the actual case count or at least partially to the availability and accessibility of news reports to identify such events, particularly those where few if any victims died. Do you really believe that the mass murder of 6 in Wakefield, MA was the only episode on 2000?

I certainly do think that the focus on active shooters is important for law enforcement and their preparedness. However, these events are exceptionally rare and not necessarily on the increase. It is critical that we avoid unnecessarily and carelessly scaring the American public with questionable statements about a surge in active shooter events.”

You’ll notice that Fox had a similar complaint as Lott did: only one active shooter in 2000? That seems to be a gross misrepresentation of the truth.

What’s interesting though is that the FBI covered its butt upon releasing the report. See, it knew that the report was shoddy, hence this shockingly asinine disclaimer in the report. Here’s an excerpt:

“This is not a study of mass killings or mass shootings, but rather a study of a specific type of shooting situation law enforcement and the public may face…The study does not encompass all mass killings or shootings in public places and therefore is limited in its scope. Nonetheless, it was undertaken to provide clarity and data of value to both law enforcement and citizens as they seek to stop these threats and save lives during active shooter incidents.”

Are you kidding me?

How does a study that is critically “limited in its scope” offer “clarity and data of value”? Moreover, how does the FBI make a judgement on the putative increase in active shooter incidents when it admittedly doesn’t have all the data?

You either include all of the available information and do an honest, empirical evaluation of the numbers or you don’t do one at all! That’s not only Research 101, but it’s common sense!

Instead of publishing an honest report the FBI opted to manipulate the available data to create a narrative that these incidents are on the rise. The question is why? Why is the FBI misleading the public about active shooters?


Active shooter casualties, according to the FBI.


Lott’s graph examining deaths per 10,000,000 Americans from mass public shootings from 1977-2014.

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 39 comments… add one }
  • Charles Whitfield April 11, 2018, 4:08 am

    I have never seen a gun(started hunting with a 30-06 at age 12) jump up , go load itself, and then run out the door and shoot anyone. If they were so worried about guns killing people then why was American GIs guarding poppy fields in Afghanistan when the Americans were supposed to had been home long before. What was the purpose? Where did all that cocaine go that captured on The Lady Michelle? I still wonder if all those free cellphone recipients still feel the same? Are those two still selling their souls to Putin in hopes of getting money? Are they still selling our Uranium to to foreign enemies of our country? When they seem quiet, you better stay alert .

  • Charles Whitfield April 11, 2018, 3:43 am

    Now, you know Hillary and the FBI, along with Obama and Loretta Lynch will cry and do any and everything at their disposal to undermine the senses of of the American people. That was obama\’s itenirary when he scammed his way into the whitehouse,his whole intent was to destroy America and lie. And look at Benghazzi. Look at the death trails and corruption behind her. But,I personally remember quotes from both of them and they are still being the maggots that they was born to be. Look at what happened to Bernie Sanders. Now look at the lies they have conjured up about Vermont. Why aren\’t all those snakes in Gitmo anyway? That would be extreme justice for America.

  • Charles Whitfield April 11, 2018, 3:41 am

    Now, you know Hillary and the FBI, along with Obama and Loretta Lynch will cry and do any and everything at their disposal to undermine the senses of of the American people. That was obama’s itenirary when he scammed his way into the whitehouse,his whole intent was to destroy America and lie. And look at Benghazzi. Look at the death trails and corruption behind her. But,I personally remember quotes from both of them and they are still being the maggots that they was born to be. Look at what happened to Bernie Sanders. Now look at the lies they have conjured up about Vermont. Why aren’t all those snakes in Gitmo anyway? That would be extreme justice for America.

  • Boomer Taylor March 26, 2017, 4:44 am

    It’s aa simple answer. It’s not about pushing a political adjenda but part of a larger act on the part of the government to keep the “dumb masses” dependant for their personal and financial “security” and a perceived need for the government to guide (read interfere and control) the daily lives of the American populous. It’s about power and the progressives having a burning need to quelch any opposing voices. Attempts to silence talk radio, discredit conservative individuals and organizations, anyone with a valid opposition.
    Creating and encouraging the people to partake in new and shiny entitlement programs (the short lived commercials encouraging people to join the food stamp ranks made me sick) by lowering requirements and losing restrictions on duration.
    Controlling the education system by dumbing down the population and removing things like social studies for the curriculum and allowing liberal profs to hold students “hostage” and be berated for saying something to the contrary, just for a start, combined with increasing the dependancy on the government for food, housing and supplimented income and convincing people that the government is right around the corner from their door, waiting to keep them safe “Drop the gun, dial 911…” and obliterating personal responsibility and independence from the social paridigm.
    This ensures the politicians stay in control and direct the future of the American people as they see fit, getting into world politics and not ensuring the independence and strength of the country. It’s just about control.

  • dean September 9, 2016, 12:08 am

    Just so you know they are not lying about active shooters…they are speaking real shit.

  • loupgarous June 2, 2016, 2:41 pm

    You ought to do another article on how the Centers for Disease Control have inflated fatal injury statistics (including gun deaths) from the year 2008 onward. This paragraph from the CDC’s “Fatal Injury Data” Web page explains how;

    “*New Restrictions for Reporting State-level Death Counts and Death Rates for 2008 and Later

    The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) in an agreement with the National Association of Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS) has implemented a new, more restrictive rule for reporting National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) state- and county-level death data for years 2008 and later, in order to avoid inadvertent disclosure of cases. Therefore, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) has modified WISQARS to accommodate the new data suppression rule; i.e., no figure, including totals, should be less than 10 in tabulations for sub-national geographic areas, regardless of the number of years combined with the data from 2008 and later. Tabulations, charts, and maps produced by WISQARS using only NVSS death data for years prior to 2008 are not affected by this new rule.”

    At least CDC’s candid enough to call this a “data suppression rule.” What possible public interest is served by inflating the incidence of fatal injuries from 2008 onward? The honest answer would be “none,” of course, but this trick allows the CDC to point to a uptick in gun deaths from 2008 onward simply by being selective in their reporting and not mentioning ALL fatal injury statistics increased at the same time, and this was done not in the interest of accurate vital statistics, but for the implausible reason “to avoid inadvertent disclosure of cases”. That one person died in a county, and not ten, is knowledge that does not impair anyone’s personal privacy rights, and until Obama took office, it was considered information every American citizen was entitled to read.

    CDC and FBI are taking the umprecedented step of indulging in blatant intellectual dishonesty in order to misinform the American public about gun violence statistics. Of course, intellectual dishonesty is both major parties’ stock in trade and the life blood of national politics. While the national press correctly exposes Donald Trump’s games with the truth, they religiously avoid doing so with Bernie Sanders’ voodoo economics, Hillary Clinton’s litany of lies that she calls a political career, and both the Democratic candidates’ pandering to a client class who don’t think they have enough of other people’s money thorough the Federal income redistribution network (robbing working Peter to pay benefit-hungry Paul)..

  • AD Roberts January 3, 2015, 1:01 am

    Figures lie and liars figure.
    At least this man had the integrity to actually tell you what the number said. As to his claim about magazine size, NO. Why would he think that the perps will obey a law restricting the size of mags? They won’t. But the honest citizen might. And that would leave HIM at a disadvantage. And what are you going to do if Obama goes bizerk and sends a SWAT TEAM after you? You will die. And the smaller the magazine you have, the quicker you will die.
    The Second Amendment is ALL about defending ourselves against a CORRUPT government. And our government is just about as corrupt as you can get.

  • Jim Aultman January 2, 2015, 6:35 pm

    A perfect example of the old saying figures do not lie, but liars figure.

  • smoke January 2, 2015, 5:06 pm

    They do this because obama owns them.

  • david January 2, 2015, 12:38 pm

    The trend line in all the POVs is rising. Not good.

  • Michael J. Salzbrenner January 2, 2015, 11:39 am

    As if “statistics” are EVER accurate. They ALWAYS cater to the opinion of the one obtaining the source information. And even if they didn’t. The idea that one can obtain ALL the available data, is ludicrous. It simply isn’t possible. And I won’t even get started on obtaining all the data that isn’t “available”. It just more propaganda, perpetrated for the purpose of exciting individuals into a particular frame of mind. The sad part is, so many, are so willing, to be influenced by such nonsense.

  • Jim January 2, 2015, 10:20 am

    Perhaps if the drive-by media didn’t give mass shooting stories and mass killers so much publicity, there wouldn’t be as many copy-cat mass shootings. 24/7 coverage, like we experienced with Ferguson and New York, is just too much. The nut-cases, see this stuff and after watching for hours and hours, get the idea they want some notoriety also.

  • Rolly Polly Fat Man January 2, 2015, 9:57 am

    Just goes to show that people are really bad about assessing risk. The risk of being killed in a mass shooting, 1 in 10 million. Risk that you will die in an airplane crash, 1 in 250,000. Risk that you will die in an automobile accident, 1 in 5000.

  • roger mason January 2, 2015, 8:23 am

    why isn’t anyone coming out to say nearly every one of the
    mass shottings has been a government DHS fraud? no one was
    killed at Sandy Hook for example. no one was killed at the
    Navy Yard. no one was killed at the Batman movie. nearly
    every one of these mass shottings has been a pitiful, transparent
    government DHS hoax. just google any of these with the word
    “fraud” or “hoax” and you’ll see endless proof they never

  • John Quigley January 2, 2015, 8:22 am

    Government seems to be more manipulative these days than I can remember in my 70 years of life. The biggest problem now seems to be the hatred that this President and his minions have for this nation. He did say he wanted to fundamentally change this country, and he is doing one heck of a job. The facts are that if you tell the big lie often enough most people begin to believe it is the truth, that is the propaganda that is being used these days. Lie until it becomes the truth. Look at Obamacare and the years of lies about that. Remember politicians LIE as a part of their very existence. Reagan said it well, one of the worst things to hear, “I am from the government and I’m here to help you.”

  • Krish4479 January 2, 2015, 5:07 am

    According to the FBI statistics, there were no deaths in Connecticut in 2012. That confirms that no kids died at Sandy Hook.

  • Jared January 2, 2015, 4:45 am

    If there is any truth to a rise, which it seemed like there could be (and of which is actually what I would expect from today, and hear me out), even if ever so slightly, I would say it was happening because of the exact opposite of what “More guns, less crime” by Lott teaches! Gov pricks have been brain washing people into being scared crapless of firearms, jumping on the gun control bandwagon with their votes, etc, and therebye turning the masses into victims bent on taking it up the rear by gun weapon toting perps. A defenseless crowd invites evil to run wild, instead of being checked and checked quickly. Question, I live in Colorado, pretty darn close to the Aurora shooting (and I wish I had been there with my firearm!). Where the heck was the hero that could have led a reverse assault on the shooter the second he started murdering gunless victims?! This may seem harsh, but those victims were exactly like the first two planes that hit the towers. Only when the people in plane 3 or 4’s eyes were opened to the truth of the matter (not the one that hit the Pentagon, but the other one…Let’s roll), did they decide to pass on being victims, and instead foil the wicked plot they were going to be accessory to if they had just sat there and bent over like the first two sets of passengers did. They believed the lie, and in turn the lies the perps presented them, because they have been groomed to do so, to be victims, and they allowed their planes to be used to kill nearly countless innocent people. Ridiculous.

  • Russ October 22, 2014, 4:01 am

    Check out these videos that have always made me wonder about all the bullshit media stories

  • Stephen A Espe October 20, 2014, 6:41 pm

    When the dollar tanks and people get hungry the government sure as hell doesn’t want the starving armed. If the farmers in 1933 Russia had been armed it’s doubtful that Stalin would have been able to starve to death 10,000,000 of the poor bastards.

  • jim2train October 20, 2014, 2:27 pm

    Really it just reinforces the case that the more good guys with guns out there the better.

    • Russ October 22, 2014, 11:09 am

      When it comes to firearms and firearm safety, nobody in the World nows more about this than the NRA.
      The NRA should be in charge of all laws having to do with firearms in the United States, period.

      • Russ October 23, 2014, 12:06 pm

        Sorry, thought I fixed that typo = nows=Knows

      • rick January 3, 2015, 11:43 am

        Russ dont you understand that all gun laws are unconstitutional, an infringement on your right to bear arms. The NRA, the oldest civil rights organization in America should of stood up against all laws and regulations that restrict, impede or prohibit any citizen from exercising their God given right to bear arms. Which by the way goes way beyond fire arms. But it seems that many have already drank the koolaid and do believe in infringements on our rights.

  • William Novak October 20, 2014, 12:52 pm

    They are unfortunately now political hacks.

  • Huapakechi October 20, 2014, 11:10 am

    The “researchers” were told what to deliver. the exact wording was the only variable. It’s the same kind of research findings that one finds in the failed communist Russia.

    • Russ October 22, 2014, 11:00 am


    • DaveGinOly January 3, 2015, 1:24 pm

      One wonders if there may have been a “preliminary report” made to higher-ups, and whether that report may have been rejected, and the analysts told “Do it again until you get it right *wink*.”

  • Bill October 20, 2014, 11:04 am

    If you did a standard regression analysis of Figure 3, I believe you will find the slope of the line to be essentially flat. This means that there has been no change in deaths per 10,000 since 1977. Similarly, Figure 2 is very misleading. They present graph uses a very low start point and the slope of the line is too steep. Again, an unbiased statistical regression analysis would show only a very minor change in the number of active shooter incidents. This is obviously a case of the person(s) writing the report showing misleading or even FALSE information and conclusions.

  • Lancer October 20, 2014, 11:02 am

    When doing these kinds of studies, we should be able to utilize a bit of Actuary, just as the Government allows other money making businesses. Let’s throw out the two highest and lowest events for each year, then average them all together with a projected population count. Where does that leave us? Crazy, isn’t it?

  • Lee Blackman October 20, 2014, 10:18 am

    Seriously, people need to get out and vote… This is what happens when you get a buncha mobsters (from shitcago, IL) and extremists in office. They discredit otherwise reputable agencies that they head. Just look at the justice department now, what a freakin joke…

    • Russ October 22, 2014, 10:57 am

      That’s what they want Lee.
      They want you to not believe in all the great things America stands for.
      They’re trying to discredit our systems of law, voting, public officials, etc.
      And they’re doing a good job of it so far, especially, and most importantly, with the presidency.
      They want you to throw up your hands and lose faith in it, so they can have a communist state, or have the UN run a New World Order.
      They don’t like America and are having a silent war with it.

      As far as voting goes with all the special interest and cheating of the vote.
      Right now we need to implement a recount of votes.
      They haven’t figured out how to cheat that yet, so every election they should do recounts

      It’s my opinion that we should hire public servants that have been vetted to the highest degree.
      The one’s with the best credentials are hired for a determined amount of time and get $.00 pay.
      This would be the only way to have patriots working for our country that really care.
      I have a dream.

  • Jay October 20, 2014, 7:18 am

    Well what does one expect from our illustrious government who’s whole agenda has been about restricting and pushing for citizens to be disarmed? They label it as “gun control” but every self thinking person knows it is “control” period! There are a lot of misinformed and dis-informed individuals who still believe what the government wants them to believe, then there are those that ride the fence when they hear the lie enough times, sways them over to believe the lie!

    • D Hicks October 20, 2014, 9:14 am

      Government research , is that a misnomer?

    • Steve January 2, 2015, 6:03 am

      Well where to start. There are so many things wrong with throwing out simple statistics and saying you know what the situation is. The first place to start would be population, in 1977 the U.S. Population was estimated around 220.2 million. In 2014 U.S. Population is estimated around 320 million (45.3% increase). To expect crime of any kind not to increase would be ridiculous, and active shooter crime is simply a minor (numbers wise) subset of a larger crime index. Obviously not all 45.3% of the people who make up the numbers of our population increase from 1977 to 2014 commit crimes, but some do… So again anyone expecting numbers to “drop” is actually kind of silly. If you want to really understand it would take a book to explain all the various factors and subsets of data and even then “data” is easy to manipulate… So the short simple way to understand this subject is common sense… More people= more incidents, and it doesn’t take a statistician to break down why like I said it’s common sence, but then again “Common sense is not so common – Voltare”. If anyone throws out data associated with guns take a closer look and 99% of the time you will easily find flawed/screwed presentation of facts.

      • Eeks January 2, 2015, 12:23 pm

        You are correct, you would expect incidents to go up. That is why the FBI chose such a relatively short time period to include (the U.S. population only increased by a slight percentage during the time of the study), and why they changed the measure of what constitutes “active shooter” events. Lott, on the other hand, uses a “per 100,000” basis, to account for changes in population, uses a consistent definition of “mass shootings”, and uses a more statistically significant sample of years. The FBI “study” is transparently deceptive.

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