U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NIJ-Funded Research on Mass Shootings to Advance Evidence-based Policy and Practice

Event Dates
Event Duration
90 minutes

Mass public shootings continue to threaten communities in the United States, yet research on this criminal phenomenon is limited. In this full thematic panel, renowned experts will present a series of research projects summarizing NIJ-funded research projects’ newest findings on public mass shootings. The discussion will focus on NIJ’s investment to address the phenomenon of mass shootings through innovative study approaches to advance our understanding of mass shootings and inform prevention efforts. The implications of this research to criminal justice will also be discussed.

Presenter #1:Basia E. Lopez, MPA, NIJ

Title: Overview of NIJ research investment on mass shootings

Abstract: A short presentation on NIJ investment in research on mass shootings, focusing on the importance of science in developing evidence-based policy and practices.

Presenter #2: John Hollywood, Ph.D., RAND Corporation

Title: Improving the Understanding of Mass Shooting Plots

The RAND Corporation, Lafayette Group, and Karchmer Associates have analyzed over 500 cases of mass shooting plots, including actual mass shootings, plots that were discovered and foiled in advance of a mass shooting, and plots that reached execution but were stopped before causing high casualties. We have used this analysis, combined with an analysis of interviews with several dozen agencies, to identify:

  • Improved indicators for detecting mass violence plots in advance, along with practices for encouraging community members to report tips and leads
  • Improved processes and approaches for following up on these initial clues, including assessments and interventions to deter individuals from violence and get the services they need
  • Lessons learned about what went wrong when mass attacks occurred
  • Factors about the location, bystanders, and shooters that contribute to low (or no) shootings vs. high numbers of shootings
  • Lessons learned on incident command during and immediately after mass shootings

These results are being captured in a “Forward Prevention” online educational toolkit that provides high-level summaries and detailed checklists for agencies, officers, community and service providers, policy-makers, and the general public. This presentation will include both a technical review of the project and a walkthrough of the Forward Prevention toolkit.

Presenter #3: Grant Duwe, Ph.D., Minnesota Department of Corrections

Title: The Nature, Trends, Correlates, and Prevention of Mass Public Shootings in America, 1976-2018

Abstract: Are mass public shootings a uniquely American phenomenon? Or is this type of violence just as likely to occur outside the United States? Prior research has offered widely divergent assertions about the prevalence of mass public shootings in the United States relative to the rest of the world. Leveraging what is known about the distribution of U.S. cases by incidence and severity, this presentation discusses the findings from a recent study that estimates the prevalence of mass public shootings outside the U.S. More specifically, the study applies heavy-tailed distributions to generate estimates of the overall number of mass public shootings that took place outside the U.S between 1976 and 2012. In doing so, this study provides a more accurate estimate of the global prevalence of mass public shootings and, more narrowly, the extent to which these incidents have occurred outside the U.S.

Presenter #4: Kristen E. Slater, FBI

Title: Interviewing Surviving Active Shooters: A Joint FBI/NIJ Research Project

Abstract: This presentation will focus on preliminary findings of the NIJ-funded groundbreaking study on mass shooters. Though the project is still in the early stages, the FBI will summarize the study, report preliminary findings of case files’ review, and provide an update on the interviews with the incarcerated mass shooters.

DiscussantsLin Huff-Corzine, Ph.D. University of Central Florida & Basia E. Lopez, MPA, NIJ.

Date Created: September 24, 2021