Lone Wolf Attack Mitigation

Lone Wolf Attacks

Lone wolf attacks have increased over the past few years. In the American news, waking up to a single terror-related news bulletin is becoming the norm. It is quickly developing into a means of communicating with the US government on its own. The homeland security department and other law enforcement agencies now rank this as one of their top worries. A comparison of various attacks reveals that the assailants' motivations are remarkably similar. These assailants typically have personal or political issues behind them. However, research suggests that social alienation and problems related to mental stress may also be motivating factors. These attackers are often very hard to notice since they carry their research and plans in so much solitude. These attackers draw most of their study and motivation online. This is by researching on previous successful attacks. Their secrecy and isolation make these attacks hard to prevent. For that reason, such attacks have 100% success rate. One factor that betters their success is their choice of guns as main weapon of use. On rare occasions, explosives are used. In president Obamas 8 year term in office, he addressed the nation 18 times in response to 18 major mass shootings. One particular concern is that America has made it easy for the public to access lethal weapons and use it for personal violent acts. Despite our security system being focused on combating terrorism, our local legislation makes it easier for such atrocities to occur. It is because of lowering the standards needed to acquire a firearm. (Website 1)

The Ontario Shooting

On one night on June 12, 2016, one lone wolf by the name Omar Mateen, 29 years of age opened fire at a gay nightclub in Ontario called Pulse. He killed 49 people and wounded 58 other people. His motivation was both political and personal. The attacker had an automatic lethal weapon together with a hand pistol. It was later discovered that he was an ISIS extremist and had sworn allegiance to the terrorist organization (Jones, 2016). He opened fire on a police officer guarding the nightclub before forcing himself in. He started shooting everyone in as others managed to escape. Omar, appeared to be well organized and with a plan during his attack. He had a gun battle with the police for almost three hours before he was eventually cornered. He then decided to take hostage some of the people who were still trapped in the gunfight. This became his exit plan as he used the hostages as leverage. Meanwhile, the police continued with the evacuation of people while Omar held his hostages in a bathroom. The Ontario shooting became the worst lone mass shootout to happen on the American soil.

Investigation Findings

According to an investigation, the police discovered that he had no connection to ISIS nor any other terrorist group whatsoever. An interview with his parents revealed that Omar wasn't a religious person, but had personal hatred on lesbianism. This showed that he was triggered by personal grievances more than political claims. More information reveals that Omar had acquired the firearm two weeks before the incident.

Preference for Guns

Research shows that lone wolf killers are preferring guns to explosives. This is because of their easier access to guns and the fact that they are easier to carry around. On several occasions after such events the government together with civil organizations call for stricter gun control laws (Stroebe W, 2017).

Mitigating Terrorist Attacks

It is difficult to predict and prepare for such attacks. The nature of secrecy involved makes it undetectable by the intelligence watch. There are no laid out comprehensive prevention strategies for such attacks. However, several preventive approaches could help. In hazard approach, hazard prevention develops avenues to reduce potential risk by trying to deter the events from happening. The strategies include identifying potential threats, understanding the risks and giving ways to evade or minimize risk (June L. Gin, 2014). As we ask ourselves why and how they attack us, we should also examine ways to counter them. To curb such hate-motivated attacks, we should find ways of making such people have a sense of belonging to the nation and so that they can focus on nation-building. This sense of belonging may reduce their impulsive actions. Their experience mainly triggers their responses on personal grounds or political stand. Islamist extremist witnessing actions of American government on Muslims such as Islamic travel ban may be triggered to take matters into their own hands. However bearing the fact that these lone attacker act on individual impulsive decisions, such mitigation measures may still not be captured by trying to create a sense of belonging to everyone (Holgersson, 2016).

The All-Hazards Approach

For the lone gunmen incidences, the all-hazards approach may propose developing a response plan, regular training of the target members, continuous planning, and improvement of escape strategies concerning lone shooter. For such a scenario the best approach would be based on finding an escape plan. The plan is viable since most of those caught up in the shooting usually are not armed to fight back. Public spaces like schools, hospitals, nightclubs like Ontario Pulse club among others, should have marked out evacuation routes. Such markings will help in mitigating the risk and reducing the fatalities. The evacuation routes need to be appropriately marked and easy to understand (Dorm, Michael, 2016). Ease of escape enables everyone to easily escape despite the adrenaline rush and confusion caused by such attacks. The cynical part about this approach is that these attackers may be internal and hence be involved in the training and understand the provisions for evacuation. It enables them to create avenues of how to stop people from escaping using the designated escape pathways due to their familiarity with the routes.

Increasing Visual Weapon Screening

Another strategy could be increasing visual weapon screening. The idea can be improved by use of visual screening machines at entrances before allowing anyone enter public spaces. The plan would help reduce the chances of such persons carrying concealed weapons from accessing the premises. On the contrary, some of the potential attackers may be security personnel like Omar who already had an idea on security apparatus and could easily breach for the success of his intended attacks (Barsky, 2016).

Training Students to Observe Behavioral Patterns

Also for common places like schools, students could be trained to study human behavioral patterns. It is to help them pay attention to changes in human behavior before such killings. On the contrary reporting change in behavior on some individuals may not give security intelligence correct information about such potential attackers. It is also quite challenging to differentiate between a lone operator and an extremist with no ill intentions.

Tightening Rules on Firearm Requisition

Tightening rules on firearm requisition is an option. It could be the most efficient way considering attackers recent shift to gun usage as their preferred weapon of attack. However, changing legislation is not easy. Different politicians have different views on firearm licenses, and hence the change of such measures may be harder than it looks.


In conclusion. The all-hazard approach seeks avenues to mitigate the risks involved in lone wolf attacks. All hazard approach does not mean planning for everything instead it is a broad approach to mitigate best risks involved. This paper gives several examples on ways to reduce or stop the ever increasing occurrence of mass shootings in public spaces. However, the primary challenge remains how to identify potential threats to prevent them before they occur (Graaf, 2011). All these other damage control schemes are only ways to reduce the effect of such attacks rather than stopping it altogether. With that said, understanding how a lone operator attacks and trying to nullify the plan before is the only way to put an end to this growing trend of attacks.


Barsky, R. F. (2016, September 9). Want to Prevent Lone Wolf Terrorism? Promote a ‘Sense of Belonging’. Retrieved from Elseiver Scitech Connect: http://scitechconnect.elsevier.com/prevent-lone-wolf-terrorism-belonging/

Dorm, Michael. (2016, September 15). Campus safety. Retrieved from Campus safety magazine: https://www.campussafetymagazine.com/news/20_active_shooter_and_active_killer_prevention_strategies/

Graaf, E. B. (2011). Preventing Lone Wolf Terrorism: some CT Approaches Addressed. Perspectives on Terrorism, 5(6).

Holgersson, A. (2016). Preparedness for mass-casuality attcks on publi transportation. Umea Univeristet.

Jones, A. (2016, June 12). Orlando Shooting Ranks Among Deadliest Attacks in U.S. The Wall Street Journal.

June L. Gin, J. A. (2014). Responding to risk: Awareness and action after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Safety Science, 65, 86-92.

Stroebe W, L. A. (2017, July 18). The impact of Orlando mass shooting on fear of victimization and gun-purchasing intentions. (T. Y. Atte Oksanen, Ed.)

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