A Federal Bureau of Investigation report released this week on active shooting incidents, such as the one at Santa Fe High School last month, had more than a few interesting points.

“With so many attacks occurring, it can become easy to believe that nothing can stop an active shooter determined to commit violence. ‘The offender just snapped’ and ‘There’s no way that anyone could have seen this coming’ are common reactions that can fuel a collective sense of a ‘new normal,’ one punctuated by a sense of hopelessness and helplessness.”

Among the findings of the report:

• Mental illness was not the main factor in mass shootings. According to the report, several physical, psychological or social forces — stressors — were found in the 63 cases the Behavioral Analysis Unit studied. Only 25 percent of the cases involved mental illness. Of those diagnosed, only three had been diagnosed with a psychotic disorder.

• Active shooters were typically experiencing multiple stressors (an average of 3.6 separate stressors) in the year before they attacked. Some of those stressors include bullying, poor grades, marital conflict, financial hardship, confrontations in the workplace and the like.

• Active shooters take time to plan and prepare for the attack, with 77 percent of the subjects spending a week or longer planning and 46 percent spending a week or longer actually preparing (procuring the means) for the attack.

• A majority of active shooters obtained their firearms legally, with only small percentages obtaining a firearm illegally.

• For active shooters under age 18, school peers and teachers were more likely to observe concerning behaviors than family members. For active shooters 18 years old and over, spouses/domestic partners were the most likely to observe concerning behaviors.

These are all interesting facts that are sure to add fuel to the discussion about tighter background checks on firearm purchases, mental health, ways to make schools safer and other similar issues.

We have noted in earlier editorials that mass shootings are becoming the new norm in the minds of many students and parents but that solving the problem will be a complex issue. The FBI report seems to bear that out.

What the report also did, though, was to focus on examining “specific behaviors that may precede an attack and which might be useful in identifying, assessing and managing those who may be on a pathway to deadly violence.”

Those behaviors include a mental health disorder, interpersonal interactions, quality of the active shooter’s thinking or communication, recklessness, violent media usage, changes in hygiene and weight, impulsivity, firearm behavior and physical aggression. But, the report noted, overall the shooter exhibited nearly five of the behaviors — not just one. In each of the cases studied, at least one person noticed several of those behaviors but failed to report it.

“For the very reason they are the people most likely to take note of concerning behaviors, they are also people who may feel constrained from acting on these concerns because of loyalty, disbelief, and/or fear of the consequences,” the report noted.

Maybe that’s the first step we all can take — observe and report.

• Dave Mathews

Dave Mathews: 409-683-5258; dave.mathews@galvnews.com


Managing Editor — Design

(8) comments

Carlos Ponce

Looking at the FBI reference guide the Santa Fe shooter had a lot of check marks according to what is reported and what we have learned through the SFHS students and staff.

George Croix

Maybe the first step?
Has there been a shooting where somebody didn't come forward later and say they were concerned?
In Florida, folks spoke up over a dozen or more times- and the system failed - which just happened to include the FBI, which also compiled this report in the article, and failure of 'security' and the very first responding officers to engage.
What happens when a suspected issue is reported, and the report is ignored...that is a problem in far more need of attention than more of the same laws that will...will...be ignored by anyone crazy enough to try to kill people....only honest people obey laws and rules. Honest people are not trying to kill our kids.
Unless and until the entities tasked with following up on the reported concerns actually do so, and do so effectively, we have accomplished nothing more than doing the same things over again while hoping to get a different outcome, and hoping that government that already failed will not do so this time.
A law allowing forced confinement for a period for obervation and analysis of the obviously mentally disturbed will do a lot more to prevent such incidents than requiring a guy two counties away to remove 20 rounds from a magazine, etc......

Ron Binkley

It would be interesting to know if school shootings are an American thing or if other countries are experiencing the same problem. If so, I would be interested in how these other countries are handling the situation.

George Croix

From SNOPES, for what its worth:

Gotta read all the way to the end to get the ultimate drift of it.

One thing to chew on is thois part: "Perhaps the two most comprehensive school shooting archives are those published by Everytown and the Gun Violence Archive, both of which include a brief description and hyperlinked source for each single incident."
About 10 seconds of independent research into these two groups shows some 'liberties' taken with facts...multiple....not the least of which was including the Boston Marathon Bomber, shot by police, as a 'victim of gun violence'....grain of salt.
Also noteable was no inclusion of counterpoints to these two sources, BUT overall an analysis with very interesting stats not polluted entirely by inclusion of these two.

Note the last paragraph for an eye opener....

After reading, consider that the USA is the only place where a citizen has a constitutional right to bear arms.
That the USA has not been invaded (well, not by a military) or suffered a political coup nor are it's citizens totally at the mercy of government for protection of their lives.
Note also that the penalty for even owning a firearm in some of the places on this planet will get you shot in the head by 'the government'.
All such things factor into why liberty brings with it both benefits, and greater opportunity for abuse...

Ron Binkley


Thank you for providing this article. It appears that any way you calculate the number of shootings, the US far out numbers the rest of the other countries. Something needs to be done now to correct this problem. The children of our country shouldn't never have to fear going to school. A random shooting is a random murder that should never have happened. The only solution I can think of is a compromise between our Government and the NRA. The NRA feels that they can't give up an inch or they will lose all of their power. That's not the case. Increasing gun control checks and raising the age limit to purchase a gun makes so much sense and it still protects our constitutional rights.

George Croix

You're welcome, Ron.
Actually, it says that on a per capita basis, Central America, and a couple others if memory serves, is worse.
And I FULLY AGREE WITH YOU that something must be done. What I don't agree with is the usual demands to do more of the same things that have proven to fail. THAT's why I'm so adamant that we consider the difference between laws, and security.
Laws can only prescribe a course of action after that law has been broken. Good people will follow them, and bad people won't, and our kids are not getting shot by good people.
Security prescribes a course of action(s) to take when laws are not followed, and in so doing addresses the issue that is at hand, versus what we hope will never happen. The 'do something', to me, MUST be predicated on what is taking place right now on site, and keep that bad thing away from the kids, whenever possible.
Ron, the NRA has ZERO to do with mass shootings or any other illegal use of firearms. They are not urging people to commit murder or assault. Nor are they advocating for anyone who should not have a firearm to have one. In fact, they are the organization that has been trying for many years to get the instant background check system to actually be kept up to date and they are the ones who insisted it cover not just handguns but also rifles and shotguns. This fact is NEVER reported by the MSM. The NRA advocates for honest and legal gun ownership, responsible use of them, and putting the blame for illegal use of a legal thing on the person doing so, not the millions upon millions who do not abuse firearms.
In fact, the NRA Eddy Eagle gun safety program, mainly aimed at the elementary school level, if used, would...would....keep some gun/child related accidents from happening, even if an adult fails to keep them safely away. Read up on it, and see what you think. Don't take my word.
Ron, unless the agencies charged with doing so, whether law enforcement, mental health, social services, or just Joe Citizen, REPORTS what they observe and that report gets acted on, all the background checks in the world will fail, because they are incomplete.
Age? Ron, you sound like an honest person genuinely concerned about a serious issue. So am I.
So, I ask you, do you not know adults less 'mature' than children...adults less honest than children? I, and all of my firearms owning and using associates, have used and owned firearms since grade school....myself since 5 years old under an old Uncle's strict observation.
I DO NOT say any young child should be able to buy a firearm, but they should be able to be taught safety and responsible use. I also say that raising the age to buy a firearm to 21 from 18 is a wish, not a cure, even as I understand why so many think it 'might help'. When it does not, what then? The only people, again, punished have been the ones who would never have tried to harm the school kids in the first place.
Rather than just discount out of hand, give that a bit of thought over a few days, and see if you can figure out how something that only effects the good can prevent the bad.
Also of note, and NEVER reported when these things happen and 5 seconds later the gun control and ban talk starts, is that Columbine happened right in the middle of the Clinton 'Assault Weapons' ban, and Sandy Hook was in a state with its own such ban, and same for the Boston navy yard shootings, and the San Diego shootings...and so on....
And in Florida, the very agencies who claim to be our protection failed miserably in both multiple opportunities to have prevented the shooting from ever happening and in failure by the first law enforcement personnel on scene to even engage the killer. Those kids just might wish someone had been there that could and would shoot back immediately....
In Santa Fe, a very good response by very good Police was, what, 4 minutes....that's forever when one is in great personal danger. The school officer at least tried his best and did engage immediately but was unfortunately severely wounded and taken out of the action.
Just imagine if one...just one...legally armed, and willing, teacher could have returned that nut's fire....
Anyway, Ron, look things over from all perspectives...then decide based on what you conclude yourself from a variety of information sources....always the best way....

Dan Freeman

Here is a link to a power point of the FBI report: https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/active-shooter-incidents-us-2016-2017.pdf/view

And to a pdf: https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/active-shooter-incidents-us-2016-2017.pdf/view

George Croix

Says 7 of the 50 events in that time period occurred at schools.
Too many.
Too easy in a 'gun free zone'.
Long past time to harden the schools properties (we already do the stadiums...) and keep out the bad guys rather than waste time with more restrictions against the good guys.

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