The uniquely American paradox exposed by a new FBI report

The FBI released its 2022 annual Active Shooter Report on Wednesday. If you were pressed for time and chose to read only the first page executive summary, you might think the data was trending in the right direction: It states there was an 18% decline in active shootings last year (50 incidents) versus 2021 (61). Yet — as with many statistical reports — the devil is in the details. While it’s understandable to celebrate 11 fewer active shooter incidents, it’s the numbers that increased that should give us pause.

First, one would think that the fewer active shooter incidents per year, the safer we all are. But — for last year at least — that wasn’t the case. Though active shootings were down, the shooters killed or wounded almost six dozen more victims in 2022 versus 2021. (As explained in the report, the FBI defines an “active shooter” as: “One or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.”) The casualty count from those events was the highest in the last five years. 2022 was a violent year for victims killed or wounded by active shooters. In 2020 there were 164 such casualties; in 2021 that number rose to 243; and last year the dead or wounded figure climbed again to 313.