Readings this week addressed the concern of active/lone wolf shooters whether ideological or non-ideological represent “the most dangerous threat to the national security of the U.S.” In an FBI analysis of active shooters from 2000-2012, 59% of the incidents involved handguns and 27% rifles. (Source: https://leb.fbi.gov/2014/january/active-shooter-events-from-2000-to-2012.) There were 20 incidents in 2014 and 2015 (http://www.policemag.com/channel/patrol/news/2016/06/17/active-shooter-incidents-continue-to-rise-new-fbi-data-show.aspx.). The methodology is firearms, (either handgun or rifle), and the motivation may be ideological or not. The return on investment from a terrorist is high, the risk of detection before the event is low, and the media coverage significant.
In one, well thought out paragraph (you don’t have to repeat the question) How do we address the escalating threat of active shooters?
Also please write 100 word comment to each of the following 3 post with 2 references to each response:
If we follow the idea that many mass shooters and lone wolfs are suffering from suicidal tendencies and/or some type of mental illness, then a simple answer seems to be improve assistance to those with suicidal tendencies and those with mental illness, both of which seem to be taboo in the US. However, in light of recent events, as the Capellan article talks about, it seems grievances are on the rise (Dallas and Orlando to name a couple). Unfortunately, it is very difficult to detect and thwart either, however I think there is a better opportunity to detect and thwart and ideologically based attacker because they may publicly via social media of their plans or sentiments, contact terrorist groups or hate groups etc, where as the latter, you cannot necessarily detect or monitor potential killers with suicidal tendencies or mental illness. One way to do so maybe by ending the taboo of suicide and mental illness and improving health programs for both. For the ideological attacker, it may be better monitoring of their communication channels and members. Another suggestion is the way these events are covered by the news. Unfortunately, I have had many conversations with coworkers and friends about these incidents and a trend I see is the immediate coverage to get sensational news and politicization of these events. The Virginia Tech shooter and Newtown Shooter wanted to emulate the Columbine Massacre. If the Capellan article`s point on these killers being loners and social recluses sometimes vying for attention or to leave a legacy, the news coverage is playing exactly into an intended goal. Avoid giving the life story of the killer. As for a response by law enforcement, I think it maybe best to act quickly to prevent further casualties, unfortunately at the risk of the officers own safety or life. Thus it would be prudent to equip officers with the tools and gear necessary to do so as well as training. Finally, as France has done, provide civilians medical training to apply self aid or aid others incase there is another bombing or shooting.
To begin to address the escalating threat of active shooters, we must look at the similarities of the shooters according to data that has been put together and address those similarities. In the article Lone Wolf Terrorist or Deranged Shooter? A Study of Ideological Active Shooter Events in the United States, 1970 – 2014, by Joel Capellan, Capellan informs us of the major similarities of active shooters during this time period. Capellan explains that the majority of the active shooters have been white males with 66% falling between the ages of 15 and 39. With this being said, the common theme is also mental illness. Capellan writes, “Lone wolves are likely to be socially awkward and isolated. Research suggests that they typically suffer from mental illness…” (Capellan, 2015). I understand that there are many organizations already in place to help people with various mental illnesses, but if this is a theme for active shooters, then more resources must be put into place to not only study why people with mental illness use this attack method, but also what we can do to minimize it. The common method used for these attacks is a firearm, whether that be a pistol, rifle, or both. Without getting too much into the 2nd Amendment, on a state by state basis, gun laws need to be addressed and in some states there need to be better screening processes put in place. Also, information sharing between federal, state, and local agencies need to improve so that local agencies can be on the same page as the federal agencies. These federal agencies such as the FBI may have high risk people on a watch list, but it is the local law enforcement on the street level that could be the ones having day to day interactions with these people and not have the correct information to prevent an attack from happening. Fusion centers do a decent job at trying to put various agencies on the same page, but there is still a lot of valuable information, such as the Orlando shooter being on a federal watch list, that is not being shared. According to the FBI data regarding active shooters from 2000 to 2012, 40% of active shooter events occur in businesses and 29% occur in schools around the country. Without making businesses look like a TSA checkpoint, I think that if the government had grants available for businesses to increase their security, that could be beneficial. Although I do not have the answers of who would pay for these improvements, some bulletproof glass and locking doors could go a long way in preventing an active shooter or at least minimizing damages.
Capellan, J. A. (2015). Lone Wolf Terrorist or Deranged Shooter? A Study of Ideological Active Shooter Events in the United States, 1970–2014. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 38(6), 395-413. doi:10.1080/1057610x.2015.1008341
Active Shooter Events from 2000 to 2012. (2014). Retrieved July 26, 2016, from https://leb.fbi.gov/2014/january/active-shooter-events-from-2000-to-2012
Assessing an active shooter threat
As the threat of an active shooter becomes more of a reality than a hypothetical, it is imperative that we take preemptive steps to diagnose this problem at the core. Unfortunately, as cited by the FBI (found here: https://leb.fbi.gov/2013/may/addressing-the-problem-of-the-active-shooter), there is no one unique identifier to the demographic profile of an active shooter. This page also gives a few interesting statistics, that although dated by three years are still largely applicable. It would be unrealistic to propose one solution that would address the threat of an active shooter and it is impossible to predict every individual who might take on this agenda. However, as noted by the FBI, “Many active shooters display observable preattack behaviors, which, if recognized, can lead to the disruption of the planned attack” (2013). I feel agencies should devote teams to the monitoring and surveillance of persons displaying questionable behavior, as done by the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. Further, there are a number of initiatives that may better prepare law enforcement and first responders for such an event. For example, the DOJ created the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) program, which focuses on techniques officers can employ during the critical first moments during an active shooter scenario. Physical and mental training are not the only two strategies. The DHS released the Planning and Response to an Active Shooter: An Interagency Security Committee Policy and Best Practice Guide in November of 2015. In sum, this document acts as a resource for the private sector on the best methods to enhance preparedness in the event of an active shooter.
In the broader sense, we can of course continue to require complete and thorough background checks for those wishing to purchase firearms. This doesn’t solve the issue of illegal weapon sales. Matthew Bunn addressed the US Senate in 2008 regarding the risk of nuclear terrorism. I feel a number of his recommendations could also be applied in this regard, specifically an intensified approach to cargo scanning of all goods being imported and increased security at the border to detect smuggling of illegal weapons. While I don’t have all the answers, I feel these are significant factors that require more attention by DHS.
For the full testimony:
Bunn, M. (2008, April 2). The Risk of Nuclear Terrorism – And Next Steps to Reduce the Danger. Testimony for the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs United States Senate.
Name Course Instructor Title: HLS 6000 DISCUSSION How to address the threat of active shooters Active shooters kill people in confined and populated areas using mainly firearms. They do not have a pattern of selecting their victims as most of them are unpredictable and evolve all over sudden (Domestic Security Alliance Council, 2016). These incidences have been escalating with the number of people losing their lives increasing. Since these attacks occur in â€œsoft targetsâ€ where there are limited armed police officers to provide protection, the society needs to be trained on how to handle such incidences (Graffin, 2016). People need training on how to recognize potential attackers and how to develop countermeasures (Whitmer, 2016). The organizations that are accessible to the public like shopping malls need to examine their response to the active shooters to establish