Using technology to support prevention and response to active assailant incidents is a good thing. Let’s keep up our efforts there. No argument here.
However, we need more in-depth, effective, mitigative work to take place way upstream of these kinds of events. The mass shooting (stabbing, clubbing, vehicle-ramming) is the “bang” of the event, that is, the point of impact where people are being murdered. It’s not the total event, however, as the assailant (e.g., the active shooter) went through known phases including: Fantasy phase, Planning phase, Preparation phase, Approach phase, and, finally, the Implementation phase. He didn’t start at the “bang.” No, he started way, way before that.
By way upstream, I am referring to effective work (to address the “way, way before that” period) done BEFORE the assailant is ever led to consider the Fantasy phase. We must get ourselves focused more on left of bang work, “left” referring to a qualitatively different kind of prevention. Think outside the box with what is needed being mitigative and preventive work even before all the well known mitigative and preventive work with which we are all familiar is implemented.
Note: For an understanding of “left of bang,” think of a horizontal line with mitigation, prevention, response, and recovery going from left to right. The bang, the point of impact, occurs in the response section. We must put more and different efforts even left of mitigation.
I mean work that is easily contextualized within the broad meaning of “Public Safety,” but which incorporates those professional disciplines that do use a firearm, namely Psychology, Psychiatry, Social Work, Child-rearing, and and/all associated disciplines that are (or ought to be) at the forefront of creating good, sane, healthy (physically, emotionally, morally, spiritually, and otherwise) human beings. According to me, we modern people have let this area wither.
As Frederick Douglass points out, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
If we continue to focus almost all of our efforts too far downstream, and closer to the “bang” (i.e., the point of impact when, for instance, people are being slaughtered in a shopping mall), we are missing out on valuable, long-term, strategies of, literally, reducing the number of boys (they are largely males doing these events) who grow up, for a variety of reasons, wishing to murder others.
We desperately need Public Safety professionals to begin seeing outside the constricted vision of this discipline being law enforcement-centric. We must get other professionals on-board and in the Public Safety Boardroom to begin dramatic, overhauling work of: How to, from birth moving forward, raise sane human beings (I’m thinking mainly of males now but this certainly includes everyone) who do not ever have the thought, feeling, wish, or desire to fantasize (the 1st phase of the Active Assailant cycle) about slaughtering their fellow human beings. This alone could be a mission statement for a line of work that could benefit humankind in immeasurable ways insofar as sustainable violence abatement is concerned.
Until we implement such work as I’m describing here, we are essentially responding (again and again) to the next Active Shooter knowing well that one more will fill his shoes in a matter of time. We are cutting off the head of the hydra-headed monster, with the knowledge that one will grow back in its place. For me, I do not consider that a place I wish our society (and the entire world) to remain. We can do so much better.