Could It Happen Here?
As we all are well aware, Aurora, Colorado has become the latest victim of a senseless and horrific mass murder which has now become the ninth worst shooting crime in U.S. history. Twelve people are now dead, including a six year old girl and another 58 have been wounded. With nine victims still in critical condition, unfortunately they are still at risk of passing away which means the death toll could go up. Let’s all pray that doesn’t happen. In addition, the suspects apartment was “booby-trapped” so that when anyone entered, more than likely emergency responders, they would be seriously injured or killed. One person killed is one too many.
This life changing event started a little after midnight Thursday night where several hundred people were gathered to watch the release of new and highly anticipated end of a trilogy. Suddenly, during a gun battle scene, the theater is filled with smoke and gas, with sounds of gunshots ringing out. Most in attendance were unsure if it was part of the movie until some started screaming and running in a state of panic. Others were horrified as they watched friends and loved ones fall to the floor from gunshot wounds.
As we watch these terrible events unfold, or read about them in the newspapers, many think about how horrible and unfortunate it is, while most think it could never happen to them.
The reality is that it can happen to you and it can happen here. These events can happen anywhere at any time without provocation. This is not meant to scare anyone however; it is meant to increase awareness and open one’s eyes to reality. In most cases, these tragedies cannot be predicted or prevented. Unless one is a behavioral health professional, it is almost impossible to see the warning signs of a person who has violent intensions or a mental disorder.
However, there are some things that we as ordinary citizens can look for. Violence is a strong possibility if one sees the following immediate warning signs: frequent loss of temper, frequent fighting, acts of vandalism or property damage, increased use of drugs or alcohol, increase of risk-taking, detailed plans to commit acts of violence, making threats of hurting others, enjoys hurting animals and carrying any type of weapon or object that could be used as such.
In addition to immediate warning signs, things that have been noticed over a period of time that could indicate violence are: violent or aggressive behavior, serious drug or alcohol use, membership or desired membership in a gang, fascination with weapons, regularly threatening others, trouble controlling anger, withdrawing from friends and usual activities, feeling rejected or alone, a victim of bullying, poor work/school performance, history of discipline problems and/or contacts with authority, feeling continuously disrespected and failing to acknowledge the feelings or rights of others.
If any of these warning signs are observed, report it immediately to management or the proper authorities. We should help each other and our emergency responders in an effort to keep our communities safe from these tragic events.
One issue that has arose due this tragedy is that of gun control. Something to consider is that we as Americans have the right to bear arms. Also consider that those nations who have the most strict gun control laws also have the highest murder rates.
Some will argue that had someone in that theater legally possessed a gun, he/she could have stopped the shooter. Here is the problem with that, and pay close attention those of you who own guns or agree with that argument: First, the procedures for owning a handgun, other than the administrative procedures, are to obtain a Handgun Safety Certificate which consists of a 30 question written test in which the applicant must get 23 correct. In addition to the written test is the safe handling demonstration which only relates to safely handling, loading and unloading the gun. Learning to actually shoot the handgun is the owners responsibility. With that in mind and considering the elements surrounding the shooting – smoke, gas, dark, extreme level of noise, panic, and a large amount of people running chaotically - unless one is combat trained/experienced or highly trained in advanced police tactical operations, a person who might have had a gun would have more than likely only shot an innocent person.
What does this mean for us in our communities? First, if one owns a firearm, and specifically is licensed to carry it in public, it his highly recommended to constantly train with the gun you have, even if it is only for home protection. Find the local shooting ranges that offer instruction and seek out as much instruction as possible. Get comfortable and confident in the handling and use of the firearm. Second, don’t try to be a “hero”, an innocent person could get hurt or killed. Keep in mind, fear is contagious, it spreads. When we are in a state of fear, we are usually not in rational thought. Always notify and wait for Law Enforcement. In the event where a firearm must be used, training and judgment will prevail.
This was a horrible event however; we cannot let events like this deter us from going about our daily lives. Do not stop going to the movies, out to eat or anywhere else. Do not be controlled by fear. Do not give these evil people control over us. Let’s come together and do everything we can to prevent an incident like this from happening in our communities.
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The Thousand Oaks, CA shooting, Chicago hospital shooting and the Alabama mall shooting.
Please see the Current Events page for information on these incidents.