News headlines across the country labeled the massacre in Boulder, CO as the nth ‘mass shooting’ to happen this year. While these headlines are commonplace, there is surprisingly little agreement on what a mass shooting is, or how many there have been. The Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Department of Justice, media outlets, and academics all have their own definitions of a mass shooting. It’s usually not a mass shooting if it’s gang-related, drug-related, part of another crime (like 5 people shot during a bank robbery), a serial killer, domestic violence, or inside a private residence. The government doesn’t count…

On the first day of Joe Biden’s presidency, simultaneous suicide bombings killed at least 32 people and injured 110 others in Iraq. ISIS claimed responsibility despite statements by the prior president that ISIS had been 100% defeated. The scale, coordination, and timing of the bombing demonstrates that ISIS is a cohesive terrorist organization with the resources and capabilities to carry out significant strikes against US interests. ISIS garnered international attention in 2014 when they quickly captured territory across Iraq and Syria. In the past year, they have quietly re-established their presence in Northern Africa.


The attack in Iraq presents an…

General Perna, the military official running Operation Warp Speed, said yesterday that the “last mile” of vaccinating the American public against COVID is going slower than expected.

We are not on the last mile of the race to vaccinate the public. We just passed the first mile marker by developing and approving a vaccine. Our vaccination marathon has 25 more long miles ahead to produce, deliver, prioritize, administer, and track the process of giving two shots to 80% of our citizens.

The first mile, vaccine development, although not easy, was actually fairly straightforward. A small group of companies and dedicated…

While the events of 2020 have shocked the general public, homeland security experts ‘imagined’ these threats including a global pandemic, mass civil unrest, cyberattacks, active shooters, and increasing severity of natural disasters from global climate change as part of the Homeland Security Advanced Thinking Program (HSx) almost 4 years ago.

As the world continues to change, I have updated this growing list with both new threats that we will likely face, and unknown perils that will challenge our ability to secure the nation.

The 9/11 Commission Report highlighted the most significant shortfall contributing to the attacks as a “failure of…

The United States is about three weeks away from distributing hundreds of thousands of doses of the new COVID vaccines. The logistics of the largest and fastest vaccination operation in human history are daunting. Our biggest challenge is that millions of Americans face above average risks from the virus, and there will not be enough doses of the vaccine for all of these people in the first round. The first group of high-risk people who come to mind are frontline healthcare workers who have close contact while caring for patients infected with COVID. The second big group is people with…

Two years after launching the K-12 School Shooting Database in September 2018, the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at the Naval Postgraduate School has completed an overhaul of the database’s public website. The update includes the addition of several new datapoints and an improved user interface allows for more in-depth analysis of school gun violence incidents. The K-12 SSDB uses open-source information to document every instance a gun is brandished, is fired, or a bullet hits school property for any reason, regardless of the number of victims, time of day, or day of week. …

Trust is essential to allow a democracy to function. We trust that when we cast a ballot, our vote will be reviewed and counted correctly. The ballot counter trusts that the person who filled out the ballot is a registered voter. We have no way of knowing if our ballot was ever counted. We trust that the system will work and the individuals staffing the polls will be competent and faithful to their duties. At the end of the election process, we trust that the candidate with the most votes will win and hold office.

Stock Image

President Trump has sowed mistrust…

Update: Hawaii is experiencing increasing COVID rates due to poor planning, inconsistent enforcement of rules, lack of testing/monitoring of arriving visitors, and community spread through public gatherings. The number of cases is still low compared to the mainland US and can be controlled with strong leadership and decisive action by local officials.

Aloha NFL Commissioner Goodell and NFL Team Owners,

You have a big problem and I have a solution

Hawaii has become one of the only nearly COVID free places in the world. Since the start, 31 people have died and 3,500 (as of 8/10/2020) cases have been confirmed…

We have already paid profound physical, emotional, and economic prices for the stay-at-home orders across the country. Things are only going to get worse as those orders are projected to continue until mid-summer. If the orders are lifted too quickly and social gatherings start to spread the virus again, we’ll undo all of the hard work that has already been done to stop it.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 isn’t the only disaster that we need to be thinking about. Atlantic hurricane season is less than two months away, and experts are already forecasting an above-average number of storms.

Major Hurricane Off the Coast of Florida

Why is a hurricane…

With public schools closed due to COVID-19, it was a surprisingly busy week for school shooting news. Here’s what happened:

  • 21nd anniversary of the Columbine High School Massacre (4/20)
  • A Russian teen was arrested for plotting a Columbine copycat attack
  • Joe Biden’s viral tweet with erroneous claims about school shootings
  • Release of ‘School Shooter’ by XXXTentacion and Lil Wayne
  • Virtual remembrance of the Virginia Tech shooting without a public gathering
Newspaper Headlines

Monday marks 21 years since the massacre at Columbine High School unfolded on live TV. It remains one of the most culturally significant acts of violence in American history. While…

David Riedman

Homeland Security Researcher at the Naval Postgraduate School and Ph.D. student at University of Hawai’i

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