<Editor’s Note: Female active shooters are vanishingly rare, so when we heard that the tragedy Monday in Nashville involved one, we had to take a look. Early reporting on active shooter events is often flawed, unreliable, or outright incorrect, but multiple national news outlets confirmed it. Knowing that the narrative on these types of events in the 72hrs immediately post-incident are regularly changed or updated with new, more accurate information, we held fire until some more time had passed, and it indeed turned out to be more complicated than that. So here’s an article on how uncommon a female active shooter is, and a lesson on waiting until things settle down to comment on a breaking news story.>
According to the FBI, a female active shooter in the US from 2000-2018 was found in less than 4% of the total incidents, and other homicide data follows a similar trend: Women murder less, per capita, than men. So much less that the female active shooter is functionally an anomaly within a dataset that’s made up of tragic but already uncommon incidents. Regardless of what the media might have to say about it. the FBI reports an average of 143 casualties/year due to Active Shooter incidents, with 57 of those being deaths. While any number of senseless deaths are horrific, keep in mind that somewhere around 2 and a half million Americans die every year, and consider the perspective this brings to a conversation that is often tilted toward accepting that this miniscule yet terrible problem is an “epidemic” of some sort.
While school shootings are an horrific, if thankfully rare phenomenon, the meat of this analysis is the fact that the now-dead suspect was a woman apparently armed with two “assault-style rifles” and a handgun (Odd that, according to recent news reports, a shooter with one such weapon was an insurmountably lethal obstacle for dozens of cops @ Uvalde while someone with *two* of them was easily overtaken and killed by police, but that’s an entirely different article). Men are over 25x more likely to commit such an act, but why?
Explanations for the minimal appearance of the female active shooter range from hypotheses surrounding the purported closer relationship with interpersonal violence that men have, to differences in social routines and norms, and the generally depressed numbers of women vs men familiar enough with guns to practically consider such an act. The only completely truthful answer is that there is no one definitive answer, and that more research is necessary.
Nobody wants to see more dead innocents, regardless of their stance on guns. What would be nice though, is an attempt at a sober discussion of the problem at hand; honestly analyzing proposed solutions that come with a realistic appraisal of both their feasibility and efficacy, and abandoning the easy, emotional route when it comes to this topic. Unfortunately such an approach doesn’t generate clicks, or bring in the donation money though, so both sides will keep shooting from the heart when it comes to gun violence of any stripe in America, regardless of who is pulling the trigger.