Data: Number of active shooter incidents rising sharply in the US

FBI report shows steep increase in active shooter situations between 2000-2019

A family grieves outside of the SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. According to reports, 19 students and 2 adults were killed, with the gunman fatally shot by law enforcement. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Many may sense it, but the numbers prove it: Active shooter incidents in the U.S. are becoming more and more common.

Data published by the FBI shows that active shooter incidents have been on the rise since 2000, though the numbers fluctuate some each year. According to an FBI report filed in May 2021, there have been 333 active shooter incidents involving 345 shooters across the U.S. between 2000-2019.

In the year 2000, three active shooter incidents were reported in the country. In 2019, the report says 30 active shooter incidents occurred.

Of the 333 active shooter situations from that 20-year period, 135 qualified as “mass killings” -- when three or more people are killed in one incident, as the FBI defines it. The definition of a “mass shooting” varies widely across the nation and across institutions.

What may not come as a surprise: Many of those active shooter incidents occurred in schools.

Let’s take a deeper look at the data.

Active shooter incidents overview

According to the FBI report, 2,851 people have been killed or injured during active shooter incidents between 2000-2019, excluding the shooters. Of those more than 2,800 people, 1,023 civilians were killed and 1,703 civilians were wounded. The remaining deaths and injuries were comprised of law enforcement officers and security guards.

Three types of firearms were reportedly primarily used in the 333 active shooter incidents: Handguns, long guns and shotguns. Officials say that 67% of the shooters used handguns and 38% of the shooters had several weapons.

A majority of the shooters -- 150 of them -- were apprehended by police. Many other shooters -- 119 -- died by suicide, the report reads. The others were killed by police or by citizens, and five are still at large.

Where shootings occurred

During the 20-year period assessed for research, active shooter incidents occurred in 43 states and the District of Columbia.

The states with the most active shooter incidents during 2000-2019 include:

  1. California: 42
  2. Florida: 27
  3. Texas: 25
  4. Pennsylvania: 21
  5. Ohio: 18
  6. Washington: 14
  7. Colorado: 13
  8. Illinois: 11
  9. Nevada: 10
  10. New York: 10
  11. Wisconsin: 10

A majority of the active shooter incidents -- 96 of them -- took place at businesses that were open to public traffic. The FBI says 50 active shooter incidents occurred in “open spaces.”

The next most common location for an active shooter incident was at schools. Officials say 44 incidents occurred at pre-K-12 schools, and 18 incidents occurred at higher learning institutions.

Of the total 62 active shooter situations at U.S. schools, 178 civilians were reportedly killed and 237 civilians were wounded.

There were a total of 64 shooters involved in these incidents, and most of them -- 36 -- were teenagers, the report says. Eleven of the shooters were in their 20s and seven were in their 40s.

Read more: ‘Complete evil’: Texas gunman kills 19 children, 2 teachers

Click here to read the FBI’s entire report.

FBI’s latest report

The FBI published a new report this month documenting active shooter incident data for 2021.

The report says that between 2019 and 2020, active shooter incidents increased by 33%. Between 2020 and 2021, active shooter incidents reportedly increased by 52.5%.

Officials report that 40 active shooter incidents occurred in 2020, and 61 incidents occurred in 2021.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, a different data source, there have been more than 200 mass shootings in the U.S. so far in 2022.


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About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.