Active Shooter – Recognizing the Signs

October 18th, 2016

With the volume of workplace shootings that continue in our businesses and schools, it is nice to hear a true success story.

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Armed Student Talked Out of School Shooting by Counselor
The student reportedly had a list of teachers and a police officer at the school he was going to shoot.

There has been a much-needed public outcry about what can be done to stop such senseless violence. The above link provides a story of courage and demonstrates the result of non-violent confrontation management training that clearly prepared this school counselor to react and diffuse/de-escalate the situation. It also underscores the importance of inter-office discrete communication during emergency conditions so that law enforcement responders can be alerted. Employers with staff such as counselors, social workers, customer service reps, and other similar positions could be exposed to similar conditions and should take a lesson from this incident. They need to evaluate what training they offer these people and if it prepares them for such a situation.

As with other forms of workplace or criminal violence, there is no one magic solution to preventing an active shooter incident. That is why I have called this society’s challenge in the past. What causes a person to become an active shooter and indiscriminately take the lives of random innocent targets? Is the solution more gun control? Is it better cooperation between the mental health community and law enforcement to spot potential threats?  Is it more censoring and regulation of the video game industry? Does home/family values need realignment?

I believe the premise for reducing these occurrences involves significant progress in all of these areas.

  • The gun control debate has to find an actionable middle ground. Gun enthusiast organizations would have everyone possess high capacity automatic assault weapons standing on the second amendment right to bear arms. Meanwhile, liberal, anti-gun proponents would take guns of any type away from everyone. Does the average civilian need a fully or semi-automatic high capacity weapon(s) for self-defense? No, but citizens should be able to purchase and license a handgun or shotgun for personal or home defense with adequate and required annual training and shooting practice. Politically, we have to find a happy medium on this issue.
  • Does the mental health care profession owe it to their communities to work with law enforcement when a patient’s behavior displays an apparent propensity towards violence? Yes, and they should be legally allowed to get the police involved in whatever capacity will have some dissuasive effect on the person. At least the police could begin a case file and start having a conversation with the individual.
  • Does the video game industry need to take a careful look at themselves and perhaps have stricter regulations regarding the production and release of video games in which killing and extreme violence is rewarded? Yes. I know it is a game, but it contributes to the devaluing of life, the de-sensitization of violence and death, and the blurring of the lines between lawful social conduct and fantasy.
  • Home and family values. The old fashioned way of learning right from wrong. Do we remember what they even are? Technology is wonderful and powerful. Until children totally lose the social skills to talk to each other in order to work out problems. Misguided children become adults with adult problems. Lacking coping skills anchored in values, they look for someone to ‘text an answer to them’, or they escape to act out fantasy solutions, like in the games they

We do these horrible things to each other. We can do better than this. Even if we have just one small conversation, one small compromise, one small act of tolerance, kindness, or understanding at a time.

Check out AFIMAC’s active shooter video at www.imac-training.com. It offers some real world active shooter survival tips for individuals and solid workplace violence incident planning advice for organizations.

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