America’s culture of violence is continually manifested through horrific active shooter tragedies.
Violence is a reality of American life. Companies, schools, campuses, houses of worship, communities and public gatherings throughout the nation are potential targets.
Visionary leadership is critical from law enforcement, private security professionals, government officials, property managers and all responsible for safeguarding individuals entrusted to their care.
There must always be shared responsibility with all members of the community. Every person privileged to call America home must also be vigilant and always aware of their surroundings.
Active Shooter Definition
As defined by the Department of Homeland Security: “An Active Shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims. Because active shooter situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives on the scene, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation.”
Alarming Statistics: U.S. Mass Shooter Tragedies: Jan. 1-June 14, 2022
- 267 mass shooting incidents
- 14 mass murder incidents
- 163 children killed (younger than 11 years old)
- 338 children wounded
- 583 teens killed (12-17 years old)
- 1,544 teens wounded
American Mass Shootings: Deadliest Days
Some of the deadliest mass-shooting tragedies have taken place in 2022 as indicated by the following:
- On May 14, 2022,a gunman shot 13 people, killing 10, at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. Law enforcement quickly informed the public that it was racially motivated.
- On May 24, 2022, only 10 days later, another gunman opened fire at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. There were 19 children and two adults killed. It was the 27th school shooting of 2022.
Additional deadliest single day mass shootings in modern U.S. history crystalize the scope of the crisis.
- Oct. 1, 2017: Fifty-eight killed and more than 800 injured when a deranged gunman opens fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Gunfire was sprayed for approximately 10-15 minutes upon a crown of about 22,000 concertgoers.
- June 12, 2016: Forty-nine killed and more than 50 wounded when a gunman opens fire inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.
- April 16, 2007: Thirty-two students and faculty killed and numerous others are injured at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.
- Dec. 14, 2012: Twenty children, ages 6 and 7, and six adult staff and faculty were shot dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
- Nov. 5, 2017: Twenty-five people as well as an unborn child were shot dead, and 20 others wounded inside a small church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
- Oct. 16, 1991: Twenty-three people are shot dead inside Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas.
- July 18, 1984: Twenty-one adults and children are killed inside a McDonald’s in San Ysidro, Calif.
- Aug. 1, 1966: Eighteen are killed, including an unborn child, and at least 30 are wounded at the University of Texas in Austin. The shooter also killed his wife and mother earlier in the day.
- Feb. 14, 2018: Seventeen are shot dead by a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
- Dec. 2, 2015: Fourteen are killed by a married couple during a holiday season employee gathering at Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, Calif. [i]
Dedication, Competence, Discipline
Throughout my career, I have conducted hundreds of walkthroughs at sites to assess security. After many of these walkthroughs, my responsibility was to develop post orders for security personnel, action plans and emergency contact information.
Despite the importance of these procedures for protecting life and property, the deficiencies at many sites were often conspicuous.
The possibility of an emergency is always a reality, whether it be man-made or natural, and leadership must always be built of the pillars of dedication, competence and discipline.
Practical Preparedness Tips
Continuous active shooter tragedies remind us that incidents can happen at any place and time. There are steps that can be taken to prevent the threat.
The proactive mindset of preparedness includes the mantra, “If you see something, say something.” It also involves action plans at sites including schools, campuses, houses of worship and workplaces.
Visionary leadership must also ensure training, plans and drills are implemented if they do not exist, and there is continual and effective ongoing training.
Situational awareness is also critical as one must always know where exits are located whenever visiting facilities, malls, theaters or public places.
According to the FBI, the three options for survival during an incident are as follows:
RUN. Getting away from the shooter or shooters is the top priority. Leave your things behind and run away. If it’s safe to do so, warn others nearby. Call 911 when you are safe. Describe each shooter, their locations and weapons.
HIDE. If you can’t get away safely, find a place to hide. Get out of the shooter’s view and stay very quiet. Silence your electronic devices and make sure they won’t vibrate. Lock and block doors, close blinds and turn off the lights. Don’t hide in groups — spread out along walls or hide separately to make it more difficult for the shooter. Try to communicate with police silently — like through text messages or by putting a sign in an exterior window. Stay in place until law enforcement gives you the all clear.
FIGHT. Your last resort when you are in immediate danger is to defend yourself. Commit to your actions and act aggressively to stop the shooter. Ambushing the shooter together with makeshift weapons such as chairs, fire extinguishers, scissors, and books can distract and disarm the shooter.
During and after an incident it is always essential to follow the instructions of law enforcement. First-Aid classes should also be taken to learn skills that can save lives.
Responsibility of Elected Officials
We must also demand that our elected officials, whom we have entrusted with the health, safety, and welfare of our communities, provide the necessary visionary leadership to enact laws to protect society.
Sensible gun laws are required, without the continuous lame excuses, outlandish interpretations of the Second Amendment and misunderstanding of the importance of “well-regulated.”
Individuals who have nefarious intentions, or who are not mentally qualified, must not be enabled to purchase weapons without comprehensive background checks, training, certifications or licensing.
America’s flag continues to fly at half-staff too often due to violent rampages against the innocent.
Visionary leadership must inspire vigilance and collaboration to prevent violence. We must have the determination, commitment and courage to protect ourselves and others.
Training initiatives, security assessments, sound security measures, building police-community partnerships, professional security personnel and responding effectively to warning signs are critical safeguards against active shooter tragedies.
These pillars must be inseparable from securing our communities against mass shooting tragedies and essential to reawakening the nation.