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FBI Underreports Defensive Gun Use to Congress

The Crime Prevention Research Center reveals the FBI has underreported how frequently armed citizens stop active shooters.

FBI Underreports Defensive Gun Use to Congress

Crime Prevention Research Center (Image courtesy of CPRC)

In mid-December, Dr. John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) and a world-recognized expert on guns and crime, testified before a Congressional subcommittee on violence and made some startling revelations. Perhaps one of the most important was that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) covered up the fact that armed citizens use their guns quite frequently to stop active shooter attacks.

According to Lott’s testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, the FBI grossly underreported the number of times armed citizens had stopped active shooters over an eight-year period from 2014 to 2021.

Lott told members of the subcommittee that the FBI hired academics from Texas State University to find news stories about incidents where active shooter incidents (defined by the agency as incidents in which an individual actively kills or attempts to kill people in a populated, public area) were stopped by armed citizens. Subsequently, the agency reported that armed citizens stopped only 11 of 252 active shooter incidents, or about 4.4 percent.

Despite having a far smaller budget than the FBI, Lott’s group decided to do its own search for such news stories. What he found was quite eye-opening. “We discovered a total of 360 active shooter incidents from 2014 to 2021, and found that an armed citizen stopped 124 of these,” Lott testified. “I also found that the FBI had misidentified five cases, usually because the person who stopped the attack was incorrectly identified as a security guard.”

Lott believes that even those numbers could be low, since much of the media trends toward the anti-gun side of the equation and might not report all such incidents. “Though we found that armed citizens had stopped 11 times more cases than the FBI reports, I make no claim that we have identified all of them,” he told the subcommittee. “It is quite possible that the news media itself never covers many such incidents. “But no one needs to take my word for it that the FBI missed many cases. All of the news stories that my team collected are listed on the CPRC website.”

Setting aside the years 2014 to 2021, Lott revealed to Congress some even more astounding statistics. “My organization … has documented 30 cases since January 2020 where a would-be mass public shooting was likely stopped by civilians legally carrying guns,” Lott said. “During that time, there were 17 mass public shootings where four or more people were killed. These heroic actions rarely get national news coverage.”

Why the coverup by both the FBI and the media? In an interview a few weeks before his congressional testimony, Lott told me that it is all part of a concerted effort to hide the frequency of defensive gun uses (DGUs) from the public to bolster chances for anti-gun legislation. Concerning the faulty FBI data, Lott pointed out the enormous error to the agency and to media outlets that reported the erroneous information, but nobody was interested in the truth. 

“Not only can we not get the FBI to fix these data that they put out, but when I approach the media they refuse to fix anything,” Lott said. “At one time I would have thought that simply pointing out huge errors in government reports would be newsworthy, particularly if those government reports were being used extensively in the news. But they don’t care if the government is making errors, as long as it’s making errors in a direction that is politically acceptable to them. 

“We are living in a world right now where literally hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars is being spent to misinform people about what causes crime and how you stop it, and how effective individuals are at being able to go and stop it.” 


About the Author

Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for over 20 years.


If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at FirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com.




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