FBI Accused of Massively Undercounting 'Good Guy With a Gun' Interventions in Active Shooting Situations

(Pam Panchak/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

For many years, Second Amendment activists have claimed that citizens armed with guns have stopped or interfered with active shooters on many occasions, saving many lives.


But the FBI and gun control activists have dismissed that idea out of hand, saying the statistics simply don’t bear that out.

What if the statistics are wrong? And not just wrong, but spectacularly wrong to the point that it raises questions of FBI bias?

A new report from the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) says that the FBI’s data contains “massive errors” when examining active shooting incidents over the last eight years.

“Although collecting such data is fraught with challenges, some see a pattern of distortion in the FBI numbers because the errors almost exclusively go one way, minimizing the life-saving actions of armed citizens,” said Crime Prevention Research Center founder and president John Lott.

Fox News:

Data released by the nonprofit shows that 34.4% of active shootings were thwarted by armed citizens between 2014 and 2021. However, FBI data show only 4.4% of active shootings were thwarted by armed citizens during that time period.

All in, 360 active shooter incidents were identified by CPRC between 2014 and 2021, with 124 stopped by armed citizens. The FBI identified 252 active shooter incidents during the same time period, with only 11 thwarted by armed citizens.

As Lott points out, the process of collecting data on active shooting situations is complex. But what makes cooking the books a possibility is that the errors almost always appear to minimize the number of incidents involving a “good guy with a gun.” If it was a statistical fluke, you would expect the errors to go both ways.


But the FBI obviously defines “thwarting an active shooter” differently than the rest of us.

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 have caused the discrepancies between the FBI data and the group’s research: misclassified shootings and overlooked incidents.

The research argues that the FBI misclassified at least five cases, including two cases where citizens with valid firearm licenses thwarted a shooting, but the citizens were not listed in the report because police ultimately apprehended the suspects. The other three misidentified cases include one where “the FBI simply failed to mention citizen engagement at all,” and two others that categorized armed civilians as armed security members.

That’s one way to keep the number of heroic private citizens down; just don’t mention them at all.

Clearly, the FBI thinks that telling the whole story about private citizens intervening in active shooting situations would encourage such “vigilantism.” That attitude is prevalent among law enforcement who believe they already have enough trouble dealing with armed criminals without the added pressure of worrying about armed civilians.


Their concern is misplaced, especially when you consider that most armed civilians are on the scene before police arrive. When seconds count, armed civilians can mean the difference between life and death for many innocent bystanders.

It doesn’t always work out well. In June of 2021, an armed bystander shot and killed an active shooter. When police arrived, they mistook the citizen hero for the shooter and shot him dead.

But the preponderance of evidence suggests that the armed civilian at an active shooting scene does far more good than harm.



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