A new report from the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) argues that there are “huge errors” in the FBI’s data tracking active shooting incidents over the past eight years, which calculates how often armed citizens prevented active shooting situations.
“While collecting such data is challenging, some see a skewed pattern in the FBI numbers, as errors almost always go one way, undermining the life-saving efforts of armed citizens,” said John Lott, founder and president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, in a report to Fox News Digital this week.
Data from the nonprofit shows that between 2014 and 2021, 34.4% of active shootings were prevented by armed citizens. However, FBI data shows that only 4.4% of active shootings were prevented by armed citizens during that period.
Between 2014 and 2021, the CPRC identified 360 active shooter incidents, 124 of which were prevented by armed citizens. The FBI identified 252 active shooter incidents during the same period, and only 11 were stopped by armed citizens.
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“Whether through intentional bias or incompetence, the FBI database of active shooters cannot be trusted,” Gary Mouser, professor emeritus at Simon Fraser University in Canada, argues in the report.
The FBI defines an active shooter as “one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.” The definition does not include crimes related to criminal activities such as robberies or gang wars.
The report points to two variables that contributed to the discrepancies between the FBI data and the group’s research: misclassified shootings and overlooked incidents.
Research contends the FBI misclassified at least five cases, including two in which citizens with valid gun licenses prevented a shooting, but the citizens were not listed in the report because police ultimately caught the suspects. Three other misidentified cases include one in which the FBI “failed to mention civilian engagement” and two other cases in which armed civilians were misclassified as members of armed security.
The inconsistencies are also reflected in the FBI’s apparent oversight, which the report says did not include 25 cases that could have prevented mass shootings and armed citizens. That’s in addition to the 83 active shooting incidents not detailed in the FBI data.
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There have been several incidents of armed individuals preventing mass shootings this year, most notably in Indiana when 22-year-old Elisha Dicken, who was legally armed, engaged active shooters at a mall and was praised for preventing more deaths.
“His actions were not heroic,” Greenwood Police Chief James Ison said of Dicken in July. “He engaged the gunman from a distance with a handgun. He was very proficient at it, very tactically sound. As the suspect moved closer, he motioned for people to get out from behind him.”
The liberal-leaning media jumped on the story, arguing that mass shootings are rarely prevented by legal gun owners. Some news reports suggest FBI data suggests such incidents are rare.
The CPRC approached the FBI with discrepancies in their reporting in August, but “the FBI refused to resolve them,” the report noted.
The FBI directed Fox News Digital to page 2 of the agency’s 2021 active shooting report when reached for comment about the CPRC report and the discrepancies it found.
“The FBI actively works to identify incidents within the scope of our study using internal FBI holdings and repositories, official law enforcement reports (when available), and open source data. There is no mandatory database collection or central intake point. Additional incidents that meet FBI criteria for reporting active shooter incidents that exist for other crimes “Every effort is made to report those incidents in the future if they are identified after the document is published,” the FBI report said.
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The October CPRC report also detailed how often armed citizens prevented mass shootings and mass shootings in areas where guns were allowed, unlike gun-free zones more common in some states and cities.
Between 2014 and 2021, there were 204 active shooting incidents in areas where people are allowed to carry guns, the statistics show. Of the 204 cases, 104 were stopped by an armed citizen, meaning 51% of attacks were stopped by people carrying legally concealed handguns, the report said.
“When I was at the Justice Department, they refused to look at this. Is there an active shooter event in a place where guns are banned. The main reason for that is if you have a place where guns are banned, law-abiding civilians are likely to follow the laws there, and you can’t expect them to stop these types of attacks,” Lott told Fox News Digital. Said.
An August Real Clear Investigations piece noted that law enforcement departments do not compile active shooter reports for the FBI and that the FBI relies mainly on news reports. The FBI contracts active shooter studies to the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University.
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“There is no reason to think that the news media covers all cases where civilians have stopped attacks. The further back we go, the more cases we are likely to miss,” the October report notes.
The report found that the farther back in history researchers go to examine armed citizens, the more likely cases to prevent attacks are missed. Data from non-profits in 2021 shows, for example, that 49.1% of active shootings were prevented, with that percentage falling each year since 2014; 45.1% of active shootings were stopped in 2020, 42.1% of such crimes were prevented in 2019, and 39.4% were recorded in 2018, according to the CPRC.
Other crime experts have also pointed out that media reports about armed citizens preventing crime do not accurately capture the full picture. For example, an armed citizen can display their firearm to prevent a crime or assault, which often goes unreported to the police.
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“National surveys have found that firearms are rarely used when used to stop a violent attack,” Professor Mauser told the Real Clear Investigation last year. “Such cases are unlikely to be reported to the police, and even less likely to be found in media reports. Relying on media reports greatly underestimates the true number of defensive gun use.”
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The October report suggests that even the CPRC may have missed some incidents because the media didn’t report them enough to hit the center’s radar.