A new report on mass attacks, released as the country is still reeling from a week of high-profile shootings, urges communities to act quickly when they observe warning signs of violence, urges companies to think about workplace violence prevention plans, and emphasizes the link between domestic violence, misogyny, and mass attacks.
The National Threat Assessment Center of the U.S. Secret Service examined 173 mass attacks that took place in public or semi-public locations, like companies, schools, or churches, over a five-year period from January 2016 to December 2020.
It was released at a time when the United States was experiencing a particularly violent start to the year that has resulted in the deaths of 39 people in six mass shootings, including one this week in Monterey Park, California, where 11 people were killed at a dance hall as they rang in the Lunar New Year.
The center’s director, Lina Alathari, stated during a press conference before the report’s release that “it’s just happening way too often.” While the organization has not directly examined the shootings that occurred this week, Alathari said there are similarities that come up “over and over again” when examining major attacks.
The research is the most recent in a series the institute has conducted to examine the issue of mass attacks. The latest research noted that it evaluated multiple years of data and provides a more “in-depth understanding of the mindset and behavior of mass attackers” than prior reports, which focused on the specific years of 2017, 2018, and 2019.
According to the organization, a mass attack is one in which three or more individuals were injured, excluding the attacker. 96% of assailants were men, and the attackers’ ages ranged from 14 to 87. The majority of attacks were carried out by a single person.
According to the research, over two-thirds of the attackers demonstrated actions or conversations that “should have elicited an instant response” because they were so alarming. It claimed that parents, teachers, employers, and law enforcement frequently discussed these worries. However, in 25% of the instances, the alarming behavior wasn’t reported to anybody who could have responded, showing the continuous need to encourage and facilitate bystander reporting.
The study’s findings, which noted that over half of the attackers analyzed had a history of domestic violence, misogynistic behavior, or both, advocated for more awareness of these issues.
Despite the fact that not all people who hold sexist beliefs are violent, the survey concluded that attitudes that label women as the enemy or advocate violence against them should be taken seriously.
A business site was targeted in around half of the attacks in the survey, and the assailants frequently had a past connection to the company as a former employee, client, or customer. The research also mentioned the part that grievances, such as conflicts at work or arguments with neighbors, played in terrorist acts. According to the research, “in whole or in part, a perceived grievance” was the driving force behind about half the attacks.