Why I Don’t Use The Term “Mass Shooter” Anymore

This may sound nitpicky, but I've lately convinced myself that I don't really like the term “mass shooter” to describe when someone goes into a building intending to kill many people. Let me explain why.

First off, I'm a shooter. I go to the range regularly to go shooting. The term “mass shooter” or “shooting spree” is not good because there is a negative connotation there that we cannot ignore. That negative connotation attached to the word “shooter” or “shooting.”

I'm a shooter who goes shooting at the gun range on a weekly basis. In fact, I'm scheduled to go tomorrow.

Do these people think of themselves as shooters? Or do they think of themselves as killers, murderers?

That's meant as a rhetorical question because I don't believe any of us who haven't killed innocent people could know. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think these killers consider it “target practice.” In other words, they don't go into the building to hone their shooting skills.

Instead, what their motive is, to at least some degree, is murder. Death. Killing. Therefore, they shoot, but only to kill. So, let's call an apple an apple, an orange an orange, and a grape a grape. Let's call these people what they are …

Instead of “mass shooters,” I say it's better to say they're mass killers. Or mass murderers.

We can consider anyone who goes to the gun range, a “shooter.” But what we should not be confused for, is a killer or murderer.

Second, when a baddie uses something other than a gun, let's say a car, they're not called a mass driver. If it's a knife, rarely is it called mass stabbing (though in full transparency I have heard that term used). Baseball bat killers are not called mass batters. See where I'm going? They're almost always called killers. Or murderers.

So, why on earth are we allowing the media to sway us to use a term like “mass shooter”? Or shooting spree? Let's call these psychos what they are: Killers. Murderers. Leave your thoughts on this in the comments below.

Also, if you're in the market for some excellent training designed to help you live if you ever find yourself in this type of situation, check out our Fighting From Cover Course. I'm going through it and it's excellent.

*We originally published this post in August 2019*

About Joshua Gillem

Josh is a lifelong practitioner and student of the gun. He grew up shooting/hunting with his dad, and was given his first gun, a 12 gauge shotgun, when just a small boy. After high school, he joined the Marines where his love for firearms blossomed as he qualified with an M16A2, an M9, and a 240G. Josh has been writing about firearms and tactics for several years, owns the blog Gunners Den, is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, and believes that each individual person has the right to self-defense by any means necessary. Currently residing in gun-friendly NC, he carries a concealed gun on a daily basis, even in his own house.


  1. David on August 22, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    The left is quite clever at shaping the conversation by harping on particular language to color public perception. This is used whenever a political agenda is present like gun control (mass shooter, Assult Rifle, high capacity magazine etc) or simply assulting an opponent (racist, capitalism etc ). The problem is the rest of us allow the use of the words to become part of common speech thereby reinforcing the pejorative intentions and the nefarious agenda.

    • Gary Clark on June 2, 2022 at 6:25 am

      I stopped using the term mass shooter recently. I finally realized that it was being used to influence the gun haters. I call them mass murderers and the incidents mass murders for the same reasons you mentioned.

  2. Joe Thomas on August 22, 2019 at 9:38 pm

    I agree 100 percent

    • Douglas L Self on August 28, 2019 at 10:55 am

      Amen. I shoot, but not at any LIVING thing, let alone a human being, unless there’s a very compelling reason why they shouldn’t live anymore. Else my “gun violence” is directed at paper targets, empty beer bottles, soda pops cans, and other deliterium that I use for practice.

  3. Vincent Emma on August 26, 2019 at 8:56 pm

    A lot of good info. Will require more time

  4. GW on August 26, 2019 at 9:56 pm

    Law enforcement will always use “active shooter”, not active killer, murderer, death dealer, or whatever other goofy term you want. The genie is out of the bottle on this one boys, and it’s not a left, right, liberal or conservative thing. It’s called common sense. Try it.

    • Joshua Gillem on August 27, 2019 at 6:42 am

      And to think, all this time I’ve been missing out on common sense. Who knew?

      • Clark Kent on May 27, 2022 at 6:05 pm

        You have not been missing out on common sense. Some folks insist on separating the fly poop from the pepper…

  5. DANorth on August 27, 2019 at 4:19 am

    Yes GW law enforcement does call a situation where a person is is ACTIVELY shooting an active shooter. This is obviously to apprise them of the situation they are responding to and the responses they need to consider. An active shooter is far different from a mass murderer. A y person (including law enforcement) that is actively firing a weapon whether on the range or not is an active shooter. The difference is that when the media uses the term After a mass murder they are emphasizing the method of murder and in effect downplaying the murder of innocent people. The point is the downplay of murder and the emphasis on method is in many cases solely for the purpose of sensationalism and possibly pushing a agenda, Not accurate and impartial reporting of the facts as known. It is just common sense, try it.

    • Clark Kent on May 27, 2022 at 6:06 pm

      ‘An active shooter is far different from a mass murderer’? Not according to the MSM.

  6. john on September 4, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    I’ve understood this for a long time. Ratings and agenda are the keys to how news stories are reported. Oh, and common sense really isn’t very common any more…

  7. Arno on May 29, 2022 at 7:53 am

    You know, I had really never given that reference “mass shooters”, any thought. One can more clearly see how the mainstream media can influence the minds of millions of people with their insidiously purposeful misuse of words and terms to confuse the real intent of the Democratic/Socialist agenda…to disarm Americans, subject us to total government control and their so-called, “new world order”. As a U.S. Air Force, Vietnam Era, honorably discharged veteran, I took an oath and I swore to defend the Constitution of The United States of America against all enemies, foreign and/ or domestic. My oath did not end with my discharge. I will fight to defend my country and my brothers and sisters who gave their last measure of blood so that we live in God’s country.

    • Donald Boske on May 29, 2022 at 11:54 am

      I am like you, Ex Air Force, Vietnam Era, and Honorably discharged and you are right about the Oath. It has NO Expiration Date at all. I will Defend this Country to the END but, today the Government is mutated into the lowlife Politicians that really Hate ALL of us now who don’t represent We the People in any way. Right or Left, they are ALL Corrupt now with Delusions of Insanity. It’s Hard to defend anything they say or do anymore.

    • Roger on June 1, 2022 at 7:34 pm

      Air Force vet, same oath too bad politicians don’t live up to the one they took. They should follow the oath or be recalled. If and when there is a revolution I hope I still mobile enough to fight the traitors tearing apart our country. Most of them should be tried for treason.
      Politicians want every bodies guns. If they use what ever brain they have they would put criminals in prison for longer and stiffer sentences instead of letting back into the population. I’ve suggested to more then 1 politician. any crime committed with a weapon(nobody injured) 5 years for weapon plus crime time 2 nd offence with weapon
      (nobody injured) 10 years for weapon plus crime time,3rd time 20 years for weapon plus crime time. no plea bargaining. people injured during crime. time for using weapon doubles. death will get you life in prison. Stiffer penalties for all crimes. plus get rid of liberal judges and make prisons hard time not country club like some are.

  8. Clint Pirtle on June 2, 2022 at 7:29 am

    Excellent article and I agree. Could we narrow it down further to just murderer. Or mass murderer. I’m a veteran, retired LEO + firearms instructor and a student of the Bible. Civilians kill in self defense, police kill to protect the public and our military kill to defend our nation. Despite the mistranslation of the King James Bible of “thou shall not kill”, more accurate translations read “do not murder”. I shoot, I have killed, but I do not murder.

Leave a Comment