Crime Prevention and Community Safety

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 346–361 | Cite as

Advancing responses to mass shootings using a routine activity approach

  • Jaclyn SchildkrautEmail author
  • Brandon M. Naman
  • Mark C. Stafford
Original Article


In the aftermath of high-profile mass shootings, such as those in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Sutherland Springs, Texas, there is continued demand for policy responses to such tragedies. Often, these responses are rooted in emotion rather than empirical evidence and a strong theoretical foundation. As a result, there is little progress toward prevention, and the same dialogue is revisited with each new event. In this paper, we propose that Cohen and Felson’s (Am Sociol Rev 44(4):588–608, 1979) routine activity theory can be used as a framework for developing evidence-based responses to mass shootings. Specifically, by considering mass shootings as a function of the theory’s three key elements (motivated offenders, suitable targets, and capable guardianship), we consider how this theory, which overcomes many of the challenges found with typical responses to mass shootings, can be used to develop effective policies.


Mass shootings School shootings Routine activity theory Crime prevention Violence prevention 



The authors wish to thank the editor and the anonymous reviewers for their feedback on this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaclyn Schildkraut
    • 1
    Email author
  • Brandon M. Naman
    • 1
  • Mark C. Stafford
    • 2
  1. 1.Departments of Criminal Justice and Political ScienceState University of New York (SUNY) at OswegoOswegoUSA
  2. 2.School of Criminal JusticeTexas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA

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