I believe every American asked themselves the same questions Monday morning upon seeing the news from Las Vegas. Why did he do this? Why do these keep happening? Will this ever stop? Although it’s in our human nature to want to understand the why, at the end of the day, the “why” does not matter. The “why” will not bring any of those victims back to their families. Furthermore, the specific reason that each of these gunmen use to justify their actions is different for each one.
Although in each incident there are a multitude of differing contributing factors, the ultimate responsibility lies with the person that made the decision to place so little value on human life and execute their fellow man. As to the question of will these ever stop, the sobering answer is no. Mass casualty incidents are on the rise in both frequency and body count. So we must focus our attention on studying these events to aid us all in developing a plan of action for when they do occur.
Here are five common factors that exist in the majority active shooter incidents.
- Maximum Carnage. Active shooters have one common goal and that is to inflict as much carnage and mayhem as possible. They seek to feel powerful and victimize others to fill some void in their warped mind. This can’t be predicted. Each one of them has a different trigger that ultimately made them snap.
- Soft Targets. They seek out and select soft targets. Soft targets are those with lack of intense security and where they expect to meet the least amount of resistance. Selection of these soft targets increases their chances of being able to inflict as much damage as possible in a short amount of time.
- Reconnaissance. Active shooters typically visit and are familiar with their target locations. In the business, we refer to this as reconnaissance. They observe and familiarize themselves with the target location in order to maintain the upper hand should they meet any resistance. The shooter in Las Vegas had been there for four days. The shooter at the Pulse nightclub had frequented the location on prior occasions. One of the shooters in San Bernardino actually attended the party first before leaving to arm up. The two shooters at Columbine High School were students which means they were intimately familiar with that building and campus. The point is this, they generally do some type of planning that involves the specific location to be targeted in preparation for the attack.
- Suicide. Active shooters are cowards. They seek to victimize the most helpless to fuel their psychopathic driven rage. They plan to die as part of the attack and most commit suicide just before or as they are being encountered by the police.
- Mentally Ill. Active shooters are crazy. I know this seems elementary and is something we all assume but this is a very important aspect of these incidents. Whether they were born crazy, became crazy over time, or just plain snapped one day, they are all still nuts and completely unpredictable. So to my point about this, you can’t predict or control crazy but you can prepare for it.
Whether it’s your home, your business, your church, your child’s school, or any public place, HAVE A PLAN. No matter where you go, ALWAYS identify at least two exits as a matter of habit. Talk to your family about what exactly your plan is so that there is no having to think about it during any kind of major incident. When under intense stress, we lose our ability to think rationally. However, prior planning embeds itself in your brain so that you are able to recall it under stress. In any critical incident, some will fall victim, those who have prepared will fall to their training.
To learn more about planning and training for a critical incident or strengthening the security presence for your home, church, school, or business, please visit our website or give us a call at 615-236-6484. We are passionate about helping people and organizations achieve real security.