Prevent mass shootings? Aurora theater, Sikh temple, & schools

Posted by on August 7, 2012

“Run. Hide. Fight.” That’s the Department of Homeland Security’s advice for staying safe during a shooting.

“Buy a gun. Take self-defense classes. Teach kids to attack armed intruders in a school.” Those are some recommendations from others.

Following recent mass shootings at an Aurora, Colorado, theater and at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, the search for solutions intensified as it typically does after high-profile shooting incidents.

As I told Fox News Radio’s Jill Nado, the first step is not running, hiding, or fighting. Instead, I said:

“People have to get a little bit more out of that ‘me, me, me’ society, where they can’t drive and walk without an electronic device attached to their hands, or their ears or their eyes.”

Really? Yes, really.

How on God’s Earth can we really tell people to “see something, say something” when an increasing number of people cannot see a car coming at them in a parking lot because they cannot walk from their parked car to the mall entrance without their reading their emails or getting lost in a cell phone conversation while ignoring the world around them?

As I told Scripps Howard reporter Kristin Volk during a local ABC news TV interview, people should be aware and prepared, but not scared. Go about your business every day, but be more aware of your surroundings:

We can expect more “lone wolf” attackers as economic uncertainty, and people with undiagnosed and/or untreated mental health illnesses, continue to grow.

Many people have a tendency to view threatening comments and behaviors as isolated incidents.  They often miss the bigger picture of a progression of deteriorating events and/or behaviors that escalate to a tragedy. In fact, many people work hard at convincing themselves that what their gut feelings tell them is a red flag of a safety threat is actually nothing.

This summer I spoke with a group of over 150 kids at a youth leadership conference. I had an off-duty police officer walk up to me in the middle of my session, hand me a dollar bill, and leave the room right in the middle of my speech.

Then I asked the kids to describe the man. A number of the youthful observers picked out various pieces of clothing or individual features of the man. But fewer than a handful noticed the man had a gun openly displayed in the small of his back as he walked throughout the conference room.

When I asked the attendees to close their eyes and tell me how many exits were in the room where they were setting, few got the actual number correct.

We are a fast-food society. It is all about “me, me, me.”  What does it say when what is on the I-Phone or Blackberry is more important than the person getting run over by a car thanks to their inattention in walking through a grocery store parking lot?

We cannot “see something, say something” or detect warning signs of a potential mass shooter until we get our heads screwed on properly, put the distractions aside, and pay a little better attention to what is going on around us.

Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?

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One thought on “Prevent mass shootings? Aurora theater, Sikh temple, & schools

  1. Broeck Oder says:

    Right on the money, Mr. Trump! Too many kids are always “plugged in” on some device which strips away their awareness of what is going on around them. Based on my own experience (25+ years, going back to the humble Sony Walkman), a good emergency planning program for schools has to include on-going instruction on the “awareness factor.” While it’s probably a hopeless task to get kids to unplug completely, we have had success in getting them to pay more attention to their surroundings, to know where ALL the exits are, and to “keep their heads in the game” in general. Thank you for reminding school safety professionals of this vital component in student training.

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