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In the wake of active shooting, the commonly cited “See Something, Say Something” campaign is, by and large, ineffective, not because it lacks good intent. Rather, it fails insofar as it does not give the public clear criteria of what to see, what to say, to whom to say it and when. Terrorists and other types of armed assailants wishing to use violence, wreaking out death and destruction for political or personal ends, do not suddenly launch an attack. Prior to each attack, the could-be armed assailant does extensive research, And, even prior to deciding on becoming an armed assailant, the could-be armed assailant broadcasts clear and recognizable signals. While not predictable, active shootings are foreseeable. After debunking four popular myths, the article identifies a pyramid of five phases which the could-be armed assailant ascends and the respective indicators. The article concludes by discussing a proposed risk model and means by which to reduce that risk, not the least of which is an effective awareness and reporting program incorporating among others human resource personnel, psychologists, social workers and naturally law enforcement officials designed to mitigate the risk a could-be armed assailant ascend the pyramid. It ultimately challenges scholars in the fields of Psychology, Sociology, and Political Science to explore the underlying reasons which explain and thereby confront the underlying triggers which inspire could-be armed assailants to move toward the apex of the pyramid. But more it calls for raising the awareness of those who witness the broadcasts.




This article is the authors' final published version in Cogent Social Sciences, Volume 6, Issue 1, May 13, 2020, Article number 1763539.

The published version is available at Copyright © Mark A. Thomas

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.