Security Journal

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 880–902 | Cite as

Examining active shooter events through the rational choice perspective and crime script analysis

  • Jeffery R Osborne
  • Joel A Capellan
Original Article


Active shooter events involve individuals entering a public space and opening fire with the intent to kill as many people as possible. In recent years this topic has received extensive media coverage, followed by an increase in academic attention. Much research focuses on high-profile active shooter events, labeled as mass homicide events or mass shootings. The present study examined active shooter events through the rational choice perspective and crime script analysis, with emphasis placed on finding similarities between the motivation for an offense and event-level characteristics. Once events were organized into three general scripts (that is, autogenic, victim-specific and ideological), variables pertaining to the commission of the offenses were examined. While event characteristics overlapped between scripts, key differences in the planning, execution and conclusion stages were observed. This new typology may be a useful analytic tool, not only to empirically study active shooter events, but also for the development of policies to help reduce the occurrence and/or lethality of these events.


active shooter events rational choice perspective crime script analysis mass homicide mass shooting 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffery R Osborne
    • 1
  • Joel A Capellan
    • 1
  1. 1.John Jay College of Criminal JusticeNew YorkUSA

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