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The Concept of an Active Shooter

Mental health diseases, densely populated areas, civilians’ causalities, social isolation, peer violence can also be added to the keyword list.

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Dept. of Homeland Security

The Homeland Security Department defines an active shooter as someone trying to kill people in a closed, densely populated area. Most often they use firearms, there is no specific method for selecting victims. The behavior of an active shooter is unpredictable, and therefore requires immediate intervention of law enforcement agencies to minimize casualties among the population. However, people must be both mentally and physically prepared for such a situation, because active shooting usually ends 10-15 minutes before the police arrive (U. S. Department of Homeland Security, 2008).

U. S. Federal Bureau of Investigations

The U. S. Federal Bureau of Investigations defines an active shooter as one or more persons actively participating in the murder or attempted murder of people in a densely populated area. This definition implies that one or more types of firearms are used in the situation. Both citizens and members of law enforcement agencies can influence the outcome of an incident with their reactions taking active steps to minimize casualties (Federal Bureau Of Investigation, 2018).


N.Y.P.D. defines an active shooter as a person who takes part in the murder or attempted murder of people in a confined and densely populated area. It is noted that various types of firearms are used, there is no template or method for selecting victims. The definition excludes cases of shooting between gangs, exclusively at home, from passing cars and incidents of hostage-taking (New York Police Department, 2016).

A significant difference in definitions lies in the active participation of civilians in deciding the outcome of an incident. The FBI prescribes actions for people to minimize casualties, the Homeland Security Department suggests waiting for law enforcement agencies to be ready for action, N.Y.P.D. does not prescribe any action. In other respects, all three definitions offer the same view of active shooters.

Theoretical Questions

  • What active steps should citizens take before the police arrive?
  • What makes active shooters stop the incident?
  • What social conditions do active shooters most often live in?
  • What types of firearms are most commonly used?
  • What measures are taken by the police to deal with such incidents?

A Thesis Statement

People are often driven to participate in an incident of active shooting by dissatisfaction with their social life in combination with an unstable psychological state.

Critical Thinking and Argument

The resources found partially answer the questions, for example, the actions before the arrival of the police are described in detail. The FBI reports 10 suicides of active shooters since the 2018 incident, which partially confirms my thesis of psychological instability (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 20). Thus, one article reports several reasons for active shooting incidents: poor access to psychological assistance, inadequate gun control laws, prescribed medications, and video games (Diamond, 2020). This information also confirms the statement about the unstable mental state of the shooters, which is pro to the thesis above. There are no cons against the statement in the reviewed literature.

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Article Summarizing

The article “Active shooters – how close are they?” describes the characteristics and behavior of active shooters. Once again confirming the thesis, the article describes the psychological portrait of such people as emotionally unstable, socially isolated, and depressed. It is also noted that the arrows act on ideological, political, or religious reasons, as well as a desire for revenge. The article answers the question about the types of firearms used in incidents. It is also noted that 90% of shooters commit suicide, making it difficult to determine motivation (Dabrowski et al., 2017). The article further describes the steps that civilians should take in the event of active shooting. Statistics of deaths and injuries in various similar incidents are provided. It also describes three possible behavioral tactics: escape, hide and fight. Further, the article discusses the actions after the arrival of law enforcement agencies. The conclusion is preceded by a section on the prevention of mass shooting incidents.


Dabrowski, M., Sip, M., Rogozinski, D., Serniak, B., Czarny, D., & Sanak, T. (2017). Active shooters – how close are they? Disaster and Emergency Medicine Journal, 2(2), 69-73.

Diamond, J. (2019). In the aftermath of rampage shootings: Is healing possible? Hard lessons from the red lake band of chippewa indians and other indigenous peoples. Georgetown Journal of Law & Modern Critical Race Perspectives, 11(101), 101-136.

Federal Bureau of Investigations. Active shooter incidents in the United States in 2018. Web.

New York City Police Department. (2016). Active shooter: Recommendations and analysis for risk mitigation. Web.

U. S. Department of Homeland Security. (2008). Active shooter: How to respond. Web.

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