Over 60% of ‘active shooters’ stopped by ‘good guy with a gun’

Gun Rights

A large percentage of “active shooter” incidents are thwarted by armed citizens who sometimes don’t even fire their weapons, but those cases are no longer counted under President Joe Biden’s pro-gun control policies.

According to just-released data from the Crime Prevention Research Center, 41% of active shooting incidents were stopped by armed civilians.


Outside of so-called gun-free zones, which bar the legal carrying of firearms, over 63% of active shooting cases were ended by an armed civilian, according to the center.

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The new data from John R. Lott Jr., the former Justice Department senior adviser for research and statistics, are his latest to challenge undercounting and bias in government reports on shootings and back up efforts by Second Amendment and police groups to encourage people to carry firearms.

Lott continually updates his data to include all the cases, including those the government overlooks or misclassifies, to counter media reports that it is rare for civilians to put down active shooters. His information is especially critical since the Biden administration stopped counting defensive actions by civilians.

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New data from the Crime Prevention Research Center shows that many activer shooter cases are ended by a civilian with a gun.

Following the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012, Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, famously held a press conference to decry the shooting and offer a solution. He said, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.”

Liberal anti-gun groups and media allies mocked the comments, but they have been unable to come up with a winning solution to stopping often deranged shooters. Lott’s data show that LaPierre was likely correct.

Of 440 cases he cited from 2014-2022, 157 active shootings were stopped by an armed civilian. By comparison, the FBI cited fewer cases, 302, and even fewer thwarted by armed civilians, 14.

The FBI data from 2014-2022 have led the media to call the interventions rare. Lott said the FBI data often misclassify cases, do not dig deeper than skimpy police reports, or wrongly identify the civilian with the gun as a security guard.

“Evidence compiled by the Crime Prevention Research Center shows that the sources the media relied on undercounted the number of instances in which armed citizens have thwarted such attacks by an order of more than 10, saving untold numbers of lives. Of course, law-abiding citizens stopping these attacks are not rare. What is rare is national news coverage of those incidents,” Lott’s new report shared with Secrets on Friday said.

“The FBI reports that armed citizens only stopped 14 of the 302 active shooter incidents it identified for the period 2014-2022. The FBI defines active shooter incidents as those in which an individual actively kills or attempts to kill people in a populated, public area. But it does not include those it deems related to other criminal activity, such as a robbery or fighting over drug turf,” he added. Those types of shootings, however, have recently been included in cases of “mass shootings” by several media outlets.

In his updated report, he also made this argument:

“An analysis by the CPRC identified a total of 440 active shooter incidents during that period and found that an armed citizen stopped 157. A previous report looked at only instances when armed civilians stopped what likely would have been mass public shootings. There were another 27 cases that we didn’t include where armed civilians stopped armed attacks, but the suspect didn’t fire his gun. Those cases are excluded from our calculations, though it could be argued that a civilian also stopped what likely could have been an active shooting event.”

“The FBI reported that armed citizens thwarted 4.6% of active shooter incidents, while the CPRC found 35.7%.”

“Two factors explain this discrepancy — one, misclassified shootings; and two, overlooked incidents. Regarding the former, the CPRC determined that the FBI reports had misclassified five shootings: In two incidents, the Bureau notes in its detailed write-up that citizens possessing valid firearms permits confronted the shooters and caused them to flee the scene. However, the FBI did not list these cases as being stopped by armed citizens because police later apprehended the attackers. In two other incidents, the FBI misidentified armed civilians as armed security personnel. Finally, the FBI failed to mention citizen engagement in one incident.”

He added, “As for the second factor — overlooked cases — the FBI, more significantly, missed 35 incidents identified by CPRC where what would likely have been a mass public shooting was thwarted by armed civilians. There were another 103 active shooting incidents that they missed.”

Finally, he broke out shootings that occurred outside of gun-free zones where, presumably, those with concealed carry permits enter without their weapons as required by law.


“Between 2014 and 2022, citizens stopped 104 out of 204 potential or actual mass shootings where we could identify that guns were allowed in the area. So 51% of attacks were stopped by people legally carrying concealed handguns. Again, the most recent data is most accurate, and for 2022, 63.5% of the attacks were stopped in areas where people were clearly allowed to carry.”

“The numbers indicate if we didn’t have gun-free zones, we would have more people stopping these attacks,” he said.

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