Mass Attacks Defense Toolkit

Preventing Mass Attacks, Saving Lives

The Mass Attacks Defense Toolkit can help reduce casualties from mass shootings and other violent attacks

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Funded by the National Institute of Justice

Shield with Prevent, Mitigate, and Post-Attack icons in it warding off attack, design by Chara Williams/RAND Corporation

RAND Corporation researchers created this toolkit to help reduce the likelihood of mass shootings and other public attacks, and reduce the casualties of completed attacks. Whatever your role or level of experience, this toolkit can make you a better defender against mass attacks.

After studying 600 mass attack events and plots, interviewing dozens of experts, and reviewing hundreds of references, the team identified the Mass Attacks Defense Chain, a series of defenses that work together to reduce the probability of mass attacks and their impacts.

A Toolkit for Everyone

  • Law enforcement
  • Fire and Emergency Medical Services responders
  • School officials
  • Agency and community service providers
  • Building and venue security personnel
  • Policymakers
  • Community leaders

"Heroes are made because they prepare for an incident. People never rise to the occasion; they fall back on their training."

–Police interview participant

See the recommendations for policymakers and executives

In this toolkit, researchers describe the most important tips they found to help reduce the likelihood and casualties of mass attacks. They also point to key guidance and resources to provide more-detailed information.

Mass Attacks Defense Chain

Understanding the Mass Attacks Defense Chain

The defense chain detailed in this toolkit is divided into three phases: Prevent, Mitigate, and Follow Up. Each phase has a series of defensive steps.

These steps are presented linearly, but in practice, they can be highly iterative and occur in parallel. For example, following up on a tip will require rounds of assessment and actions by agency partners. Furthermore, prevention should occur in parallel with improving venue security and planning and training for attack response.

Learn about the defense chain
Key Takeaways

Reducing the Likelihood of Mass Attacks

There are three top takeaways on what community partners—and the public—can do to defend against mass attacks.

Proactive prevention

Almost two-thirds of foiled plots in our data were foiled because of public reporting.

Relentless follow-up

An interagency team led by a single point of contact designated for each case should lead the necessary follow-up.

Diligent training

Advance planning and training are required of all agencies and partners who will jointly respond to mass attacks.

Dive deeper into key takeaways

This website is funded through a grant from the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Neither the U.S. Department of Justice nor any of its components operate, control, are responsible for, or necessarily endorse, this website (including, without limitation, its content, technical infrastructure, and policies, and any services or tools provided).