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Active Shooter Prevention – Warning Signs

December 14th, 2016

A couple of months ago I posted a blog that highlighted a success story of courage and assertiveness by a school counselor. I am again going to make violence prevention the topic of this month’s blog with two links I found and have listed below. The first case is about the perceptiveness and immediate action, of a troubled kid’s parents. The second emphasizes what we think we see vs. what we should see when looking for recognizable warning signs of violence.

1Utah Parents Disarm Son in Middle School Classroom
The boy fired his weapon at the ceiling inside of a classroom packed with students.

2Sandy Hook Ad Shows Role of Community in Preventing Gun Violence
The powerful new ad shows common signs displayed by a potential school shooter.

The above links provide stories of courage and assertiveness, as well as the value of seeing things clearly that may be lingering in the ‘background’ but are warning signs of a dangerous condition brewing. Parents should be honest with themselves about things they see and don’t want to believe. The second story also underscores the importance of remaining observant for warning signs that we often write off as quirks.

As with other forms of workplace or criminal violence, there is no one magic solution to preventing active shooter incidents. What causes a person to become an active shooter and indiscriminately take the lives of random innocent targets? Often they cry out for help before they are driven to a violent act. Other times they send warning signs without even knowing they are doing so. Either way, we need to be alert and notice these conditions and say something! Be assertive about informing managers/professionals of disturbing observations so that intervention can be considered before it is too late.

I believe the promise for reducing these occurrences involves significant progress in several areas, so I will repeat what I wrote in October.

  • The gun control debate has to find an actionable middle ground. Gun enthusiast organizations would have everyone free to 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. With the case above we see that it is also important to secure those weapons safely.
  • The mental health care profession owes it to their communities to work with law enforcement when a patient’s behavior displays an apparent propensity towards violence. Patient confidentiality aside, 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.
  • The video game industry needs to take a careful look at themselves and perhaps be regulated more strictly regarding the production and release of video games in which killing and extreme violence are rewarde 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.
  • Never disregard home and family It is the old fashioned way of learning right from wrong. Do we remember what they even are? Technology is wonderful and powerful until young people totally lose the social skills to talk to each other to work out problems. Misguided children become adults with adult problems. Lacking coping skills anchored in values. Sometimes they look for aggressive ways to vent.

Finally, organizations and companies need to be more assertive with policies that make it a responsibility to report suspicious observations. Just having a policy that states that workplace violence will not be tolerated is not enough. Give the policy some teeth!

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 planning advice for organizations.

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