In January 2023, the United States Secret Services released a report titled “Mass Attacks in Public Spaces: 2016 – 2020.” Events included in this report were those in which at least three individuals were hurt or killed. One hundred and seventy-three incidents qualified for inclusion, and when the Secret Service analyzed them, they noticed several similarities.
Commonalities Among Recent Mass Attacks
In a majority of the cases, the attacker engaged in behaviors that caused those around them concern. More specifically, their family members, friends, and co-workers had some level of fear for their own safety or the safety of others.
This report also revealed that many attackers have a history of behaviors that are considered physically aggressive or intimidating. This was evidenced by looking at the criminal histories of past attackers, which oftentimes included crimes that were violent in nature.
Another similarity found in half of the attacks is that these events were a form of retaliation. For whatever reason, the suspect felt wronged. To help correct this wrong, they instituted an attack on the subjects of their grievance. Sometimes this meant attacking people they were personally involved with. Other times, the attacks were directed toward individuals in the workplace.
It also wasn’t uncommon for these mass attackers to be exposed to stressful events in their life, with these events sometimes even triggering the attack. The type of events experienced spanned a variety of areas, ranging from those occurring in romantic or personal relationships to stressful occurrences in their work or legal lives.
One in four attackers held hateful or conspiracy-based ideologies. This included being against the government or specific religious sects, such as having anti-Semantic beliefs. One in two experienced some type of mental health symptoms, such as those related to depression or psychosis. This report also indicates that one-third of the firearms used in these incidents were possessed illegally.
Where Do We Go from Here?
Based on these findings, the Secret Service provided a few suggested next steps. These include:
- Educating community protectors as to the impact of hate-based speech
- Utilizing online platforms to identify violent communications and rhetoric
- Keeping firearms away from at-risk individuals
- Encouraging and facilitating bystander reporting
- Being proactive versus reactive when a person’s behavior creates concern
- Businesses, schools, and other organizations establishing plans to prevent these attacks
The A.L.I.V.E. Active Shooter Survival Training program addresses all of these key areas, while also providing the five steps individuals can take if ever in a mass attack situation. Online courses are available, as are in-person courses in several locations across North America and Australia. Enroll today to learn how to help prevent and/or respond during a mass attack incident.