Public Safety Graduates and (separately) mass shootings in 2017

As many of you know, I teach at the graduate level for Tennessee Tech University. Last weekend, we had several students graduate with a Master of Science in Public Safety. Any time this happens, I have hope for the future. I have hope that the young students will be able to identify gaps in public safety, and because they have never been or only recently started working in the field, they will think of ways to protect the public that us old crusty’s don’t think of (because of the constraints we often see). I also am hopeful that the adult graduates who have been in the field will take the information they learned from us, and think of innovative ways to find, and mitigate, the issues that we see in public safety. These people are the future of public safety. While myself or someone else may come up with a few pieces of the puzzle, these graduates may be able to finish the puzzle on a specific issue. Seeing how bright these students are, gives me more hope for the safety of our children and grandchildren!

If you have read my blog before, you know I am a data guy. I usually dislike collecting data, but I love to look at data for insight and anomalies. While many people look at the big picture, I prefer to look at the little pieces that make up a more complete picture. I have learned that the little pieces can reveal things that we were not aware of, or that has slipped under the radar because it seemed insignificant.

Recently, the FBI came out with a not-so-surprising report on the number of mass shootings that occurred in 2016-2017, and for the most part, it is portion of the larger narrative on mass shootings. If we look over the statistics from 2016 and 2017, then compare them to the statistics of previous years, we can see a stark increase in mass shootings which are up 34%. For those of us that are daily working on this problem, or even the common person monitoring the mass shooting problem, it should be no major surprise!

The FBI began collecting data on mass shooters in 2000 and has kept track of data since. Some key takeaways from the most recent 2017 report are:

  • 50 mass shooting incidents occurred in 50 different states
  • 221 people were killed by mass shooters in 2017
  • 722 people were injured by mass shooters
  • 13 law enforcement officers were killed by mass shooters in 2017
  • 20 law enforcement officers were injured
  • All 50 of the mass shooters in 2017 were male
  • 13 mass shooters committed suicide
  • 11 were killed by police
  • 8 shooters were stopped by citizens

Of course, there is a lot more data in this report, but I think you get the idea. 2017 is acknowledged as the deadliest year of mass shootings since data has been collected. In full disclosure, some of this death and injury toll can be attributed to two major mass shooting incidents; the Las Vegas Shooting and the Sutherland Springs church shooting.

While I could go on and on about the statistics, one key statistic sticks out: Citizen intervention. It appears that in 10 of the incidents, citizens determined that they were not going down without a fight. Of those 10 incidents, four individuals without a firearm confronted or persuaded the mass shooter to stop the killing. In four incidents, individuals with firearms engaged the shooter and stopped the shooter. In the two unsuccessful attempts, one citizen with a valid firearm permit attempted to engage the shooter and died, and one who engaged the shooter with a firearm caused the shooter to go to another location.

In closing, let me remind everyone that they should maintain situational awareness at all times. Seeing that little thing that is out of place, or not quite right might save your life or many others. It might also allow you to intervene and stop the shooter before they ever start, much like is shown in this video.

Be vigilant this week, because according to statistics, another mass shooting is about to occur. Until next week, be safe and aware, … Mark

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