FBI Releases 2021 Active Shooter Data, The Numbers Aren’t Good

Last week, the FBI released a summary of the data they collected on all the “active shootings” in 2021. We shouldn't make large conclusions based on one year's worth of data. However, we still should look at the data closely, because there is a lot we can learn.


fbi data for active shooting incidents 2021

2021, the FBI recorded 61 active shooter incidents, or about 5 per month.

Of those 61 incidents, here's the data:

Upward Trand in Number of Incidents —

  • 2021 represents a 52.5% increase from 2020 and a 96.8% increase from 2017.

More Casualties per Incident —

  • 48% increase (243) when compared with 2020 (164).
  • Highest number of deaths (103) since 2017, a 171.1% increase from 2020. Above the average (92.3) for the period 2017–2020.
  • 11.1% increase in people wounded (140) in 2021 compared with 2020 (126), but below the average (253) for the period 2017–2020.

Characteristics of the Killers —

Besides being evil, the shooters have other commonalities.

  • All acted alone
  • 60 of the 61 were males

Active killers' ages varied from as young as 16 to as old as 67 years old!

While the government tries to convince citizens that banning body armor makes them safer, only 2 active killers wore body armor during the incident. Here is a great article about the stupidity of this proposal.

Law enforcement apprehended the killer in almost half of the incidents (30/61).

In 29 of the incidents, the killer stopped when he died. Good guys/gals with guns killed 18 of the suspects. Of these 18 instances, police killed 14, and an armed citizen stopped the active killer 4 times, and 11 of them killed themselves.

One died in a traffic collision fleeing from police, and one killer is still on the run.

Some Takeaways —

Don't believe the narrative-

Again, I don't want to generalize all mass killers based on one year's worth of data. But we can use this data to take away some general principles in how we respond to the incidents.

First, we can't predict who will commit a mass shooting based on age or race or who they voted for. What the FBI didn't disclose is the racial demographics of the killers. If the information exists, I haven't found it anywhere. But anecdotally, from researching a handful of the incidents, the racial makeup is as diverse as our country. Similarly, a political ideology or bigotry did not always lead the murderer to do what they did. I mention this because there are many false claims that “most active shooters are white, male, conservative, religious” etc., and data doesn't back this up.

The argument should be about how effective this body armor is, not if parents should have the right to purchase it for their children.

Banning body armor is idiotic-

Any law that bans a citizen from purchasing body armor ONLY makes law-abiding citizens more vulnerable. Two states, NEW York and Connecticut prohibit anyone from owning body armor. The justification is for “public safety.” But nearly every state, including NY and CT, already bans convicted felons from possessing body armor. That should give everyone pause and ask who exactly is the target of this law?

Two of the 61 active killers used body armor. So, while rare, it sometimes happens. When it comes to training, we should be train the appropriate skills to address a threat who is wearing body armor, but also understand the statistical probability of that happening.

Active shooters aren't concerned with what happens to them-

Active shooters go into the incident, assuming they won't make it out alive. They are cowards and either aren't concerned with any punishment resulting from their actions, or think that if they die, there won't be judgement. We may not see it here on Earth, but no evil doer goes unpunished (Prov 11:21).

Half of them are apprehended by police, good guys and gals with guns killed the other half. And let's not overlook that there would be no way to apprehend the suspect if law enforcement didn't have guns. Four times, a citizen with a gun stopped the mass shooter. This is statistically relevant because it means that armed citizens stop 6.5% of mass shootings. No wonder there is a big push by the anti-gun crowd to gaslight the public into thinking citizens shouldn't own guns. It completely refutes their argument.

Back in 2018, we published an article in which we found that when armed citizens intervene in mass shootings; they were successful 94% of the time. All this is to say that a responsibly armed citizenry is not the problem.

In Conclusion —

The world continues to be an evil and violent place. Our goal should be, where possible, to live peaceably with others. Banning guns, “high-capacity” magazines, body armor, won't change the heart that is desperately wicked. Rasing the age of gun ownership to 21 won't stop mass shootings. It leaves a 19-year-old unable to protect his family from evildoers. Historically, governments that disarmed their citizenry were already authoritative, or without opposition, became so. Billions of people die at the hands of their own corrupt government. Far more than at the hand of any gun-owning, law-abiding, NRA member.

The drafters of our Constitution did not include the Second Amendment because they really enjoyed hunting. They knew what a tyrannical government looked like. They saw what that government did to ensure it could do whatever it wanted to do without opposition, disarm the citizenry.

active shooter response

What gives you a better chance of survival during an active shooting event, hiding and helpless, or armed and prepared?

Yes, rights come with responsibility, no doubt. People in positions of authority also have a responsibility. They must do the RIGHT thing, not just SOMEthing.

In discussions like this, I'm often asked, “well then, what do you propose should be done?” Below is the most succinct way I can put how I feel about mass shootings like the recent school shooting in Texas. If you don't want my opinion, feel free to stop reading. If not, here it is:

My heart genuinely aches when I hear about people dying because of evil men. Losing a child or other loved one to murder is a tragedy that I can't comprehend. However, lost in the argument over gun control is this: Our society has turned from honoring God and following His principles and example. God tells us not to fear man that can kill the body but not our soul, but to fear the one that will destroy both body and soul in hell. We are all appointed to die, but the story isn't finished. Our soul is eternal. Again, yes, it is horribly devastating that innocent people die. I can't emphasize this point enough. However, we compound the tragedy by not giving them the good news that God loved us and sent Jesus, His Son, Jesus to die for our sins that we could be reconciled before a holy God who hates sin. That Jesus overcame death and rose again to fulfill the scriptures. Choosing God's gift of eternal salvation glorifies Him and equips us to be the vessels of God's love and character to a world that is corrupted and evil (Romans 1:16-17). We feel sorrowful not just because a person died here on Earth, but that they die in separation from God forever. We should care for both the body and the soul of our fellow men, but never forget the destination of the eternal soul.

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Reference: 2021 FBI Press Release

About Matthew Maruster

I follow my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who is the eternal co-equal Son of God. I currently live in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and daughter. I served in the Marine Corps Infantry. I was a Staff Sergeant and served as a Platoon Sergeant during combat in Iraq. After I was a police officer at a municipal agency in San Diego County. I have a Bachelors's Degree in Criminal Justice from National University. MJ Maruster Defense.


  1. Keith Kuhnsman on June 10, 2022 at 12:39 pm


    Not sure if it is the same info, but my understanding is that much of the increase in firearms related deaths involving “children” occurred as a result of gang violence. Specifically that involving minorities, and that many of those incidents were listed as “mass shootings” due to the numbers of victims.

    Any idea what the overlap would be?

    I think this is an important distinction, as those gang shootings, while heavily played up by the media, are not of the same character as we would normally think of a “mass shooting.”

    • Matthew Maruster on June 10, 2022 at 12:50 pm

      Yeah you’re likely right, and it very well could be correct info, I’ve heard similar reports. Since the FBI just records mass killings and not mass shootings specifically, i’m not exactly sure where the hard data is coming from. Again, not saying anyone is lying, I just like to get the source data. It becomes very difficult to rely on anything other than raw data, because of the intentional or unintentional conflating of terms and numbers. And even then it’s hard to trust the source.

      I think the overlap is because people define mass shootings differently. Crime is up, and the suspects age is trending lower.

  2. Jared on June 10, 2022 at 1:41 pm

    These shootings are horrible especially when children are involved.
    Since 2013 the definition the FBI uses for a mass killing is 3 or more people killed by one person in one event.

    The FBI has designated 61 shootings in 2021 as active shooter incidents. The FBI defines an active shooter as one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.
    By this definition any gang shooting in an area where people are can be classified as an active shooter event and a mass killing if someone kills 3 people.

  3. dedmonds on June 13, 2022 at 9:54 am

    The increase of numbers seems to coincide with the pandemic restrictions to me. Pushing people that were already on the edge over the cliff so to speak. That is the only thing that came to mind when looking at the time frame and the increase in incidents.

    I also agree with the post on separation of gang activities since Chicago alone would cause an uptick there. The FBI if I am not mistaken considers any shooting where four people including the shooter were killed a “mass” shooting.

    The sad truth is that evil will always be there and the ones that decide to act on that are the same ones that ignore any paper laws in place. The ability for so many to understand that is perplexing and illogical.

  4. Tony on June 18, 2022 at 1:39 pm

    There seems to be distinct difference between someone who sets out with the goal of going to a location and killing as many people as possible and someone who goes to a social gathering, gets drunk,or doped up and mad then yanks a gun starts shooting people.

  5. Joe on June 19, 2022 at 1:49 pm

    Where did all these shootings get started? When I was a kid you could buy a gun mail order or at a hardware store, no questions asked. So don’t tell me it’s “availability” that’s the cause. Ever since the 1970s we’ve been subjected to one “Lone Wolf “attack after another and the response is always predictable. Who benefits from this? Like the War on Drugs, all that seems to happen is that government gets more power, greater budgets, and we get less rights and more fear mongering. That fear mongering continues the cycle and gets you to agree to less rights, etc. Read “Programmed to Kill” by Dave McGowan and start asking real questions.

  6. Mike on June 20, 2022 at 9:26 pm


    Thank you for your clarity and insight on the FBI’s numbers, as well as how you shared that the hope for the world is Jesus! I couldn’t agree more. And there’s no way they will know it unless we share the Good News with them.

    • Matthew Maruster on June 20, 2022 at 11:23 pm

      Thank you very much for the kind words Mike. Amen brother!

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