Earlier today I attended a training session focusing on what to do in the event an “active shooter” situation should develop at my workplace. Representatives of multiple law enforcement agencies were present, and after a brief introduction to the topic a homeland security video demonstrating a situation was played via a non-government website link. On completion of the video highlighting gun violence and the potential for a single individual to inflict staggering carnage, I was surprised to see an ad to join the NRA pop up. Based on post session comments, the irony was not lost on several others present, as the video had shown an act of domestic terror perpetrated using the type of weapons that the NRA has lobbied strongly against regulating.
Following the video, the law enforcement officers who were present provided some interesting commentary, including the sad statistic that in the handful of days since the last mass shooting to hit the news there had already been 4 others. This was followed by an excusatory comment of “But that’s the world we live in nowadays” before moving on to some additional useful information.
In the question and answer period which followed, the first few questions were appropriate and thought provoking – things along the lines of “are the windows in the office shatterproof, or would breaking them and jumping out be a viable escape option?” Then a rambling question came in from the back of the room, paraphrased as “Shouldn’t the second amendment allow us to carry concealed weapons at work?”
The officer to whom the question was asked responded in an appropriate manner that that was a bigger political issue and outside his hands. The site security lead quickly jumped in that to do so would be against both company and site policies. And the flood started “Well, I’ve seen a video where a guy was robbing a bank and holding people at gunpoint, and some old guy pulled out his pistol and after he fired off a few rounds toward the robber the camera showed the robber dropped his gun and ran.” “These mass shooters are cowards – if someone took a shot anywhere in their direction they’d throw their hands up like a sissy.” “Why can’t we protect ourselves at work like we can at home?” and on and on in a growing tide until the session organizer stepped in and called for a break.
I left the session disheartened. Not because of the content of the training, which I felt was useful and well presented, but the comments. When our law enforcement has capitulated to “That’s the world we live in nowadays” and more than a small number of my colleagues feel, to the point of being comfortable speaking out in public, that the work place would be safer if everyone carried guns around the office, it’s an indication of an utter and complete failure of our society. The cause of actually having a civil society should not be thrown out wholesale, and other countries, including several I have lived in, have shown that it’s possible to have realistic controls which still enable the responsible use of firearms but greatly diminish the opportunities for the type of shooting rampages which has become acceptable. I believe that one of the key measures of a society lies not in how many people are walking around with weapons, but in how few. Guns for hunting? Yes (though in many cases archery would be equally effective). Guns for sport? Sure. Guns in my workplace or being carried around my community “as protection” – In a 3’rd world country maybe; in a country that claims to be leading the world no.
I refuse to accept that we as a society are willing to accept nearly daily massacres as a normal part of life. There are ways to work to bring the sickness under control, we only need to be strong enough to choose to do so.