With the most recent tragedy in Newtown, CT, there has been much needed public outcry about what can be done to stop such senseless violence. As with other forms of workplace violence or criminal violence, there is no magic solution. That is why I’ve called this society’s challenge. What causes a person to become an active shooter and indiscriminately take the lives of intended and/or random innocent targets? Is the fix more gun control? Is it better cooperation between the mental health community and law enforcement? Is it more censoring and regulation of the video game industry? Is it improving economic conditions for workers? Is home/family values realignment necessary?
I believe the premise for reducing these occurrences involves necessary progress in all of these areas.
– 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. Politically, we have to find a way to a workable 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 be regulated more strictly 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.
– The economy has forced employers to reduce staff. How do we give people hope for re-employment and relief from the overwhelming feelings of desperation related to loss of their income? Our leaders must put politics aside and develop programs that create jobs to give people a chance to get back on their feet. I’m not just talking about public leaders. I also mean corporate leaders who make financial decisions that negatively affect lives in the name of shareholder (investor) value. Do they need a better ROI to feed their families? No. It would be helpful to find a cure for the disease of greed!
– And finally, home and family values. The old fashioned way of learning right from wrong. Do we really 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 played.
This is not a joke and I don’t mean to make it sound as such. These are horrible things that we do to each other. We can do better than this but we must do it by one small conversation; one small compromise; one small act of tolerance, or kindness, or generosity or understanding at a time. Now multiply that by everyone and we may have something far more wonderful and powerful than technology ever will be.
Now that I’m off of my soapbox you might want to check out the new active shooter video that AFIMAC will be releasing in late February 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.