What if he pulls a gun? Ac­tive shooter train­ing now a tragic ne­ces­sity

The Modesto Bee (Sunday) - - Issues& Ideas - BY STEVE TAYLOR lant as­sai-

My wife de­manded I change my pants be­fore I left the house last Thurs­day morn­ing. “I can see your ( pis­tol) bulge,” she said.

She also wanted to know why I wanted to take a gun to the “Joint Ac­tive Shooter Aware­ness Brief­ing,” but I couldn’t quickly ex­plain an ex­pe­ri­ence from the mid 1980s so I re­sorted to stereo­types. “The train­ing is in Stock­ton,” I said, fi­nally, and slid the Glock into my back­pack in si­lence.

Mine, like 110,000 other small busi­nesses in Cal­i­for­nia, use the State Fund for work- man’s com­pen­sa­tion in­sur­ance. For years I’ve scrolled past State Fund email in­vi­ta­tions to train­ings in er­gonomics, ac­ci­dent preven­tion and safe han­dling of haz­ardous chem­i­cals. But the “Ac­tive Shooter” work­shop it was of­fer­ing to make the workplace safer was a big de­par­ture. And it shook me.

Must I re­ally learn SWAT tac­tics to pro­tect my peo­ple from get­ting shot do­ing our gig?

Con­sid­er­ing the num­ber of in­ci­dents in Amer­ica each year, the most re­cent left 12 dead in Thou­sand Oaks this week, the an­swer is sadly ob­vi­ous.

The State Fund in­sur­ance hosted the event in a spa­cious meet­ing room in mid-Stock­ton, but it was agents from the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity who did the pre­sen­ta­tion. Chris Rei­del, who said he has 22 years ex­pe­ri­ence as a Marine and de­fense con­trac­tor, led the ses­sions. He quickly steered the dis­cus­sion from “ac­tive shooter” to “ac­tive as­sailant” so he could ac­count for weapons like ve­hi­cles or ex­plo­sives in workplace as­saults.

From an FBI study en­ti­tled “Ac­tive Shooter In­ci­dents in the United States From 2000 to 2017,” we learned that 96 per­cent of shoot­ers were male and alone while 63 per­cent of in­ci­dents oc­curred in places of com­merce or ed­u­ca­tion. The most com­mon iden­ti­fied mo­tive, workplace re­tal­i­a­tion, oc­curred in 24 per­cent of cases.

Over three hours, Rei­del skill­fully dis­cussed some com­mon es­ca­la­tion pat­terns of trou- bled em­ploy­ees called the “Path­way to Vi­o­lence.” He sug­gested how timely in­ter­ven­tions through our EAP (em­ployee as­sis­tance pro­gram) could save a lot of lives.

Dur­ing a break, I asked Rei­del if there was any ev­i­dence this stuff worked, that pre­sen­ta­tions like th­ese re­ally helped em­ploy­ees deal with ac­tive-shooter si­ta­tions, I meant ac­tive-

sit­u­a­tions. I also asked if any­one stud­ied this to make sure train­ings didn’t make things worse. Could talk­ing about shooting make cer­tain peo­ple more likely to shoot?

He looked puz­zled and replied, “We (DHS) have over 100 train­ers who’ve given thou­sands of pre­sen­ta­tions like th­ese, and we’ve never had any kind of prob­lem af­ter­ward. Never. We’ve only got­ten posi-

tive feed­back.”

He’s right, of course. His pre­sen­ta­tion could not be a prob­lem. Prob­lem was, in high school, in 1986, I wit­nessed one of the first “sui­cide clus­ters” in Omaha. Three teens from two dif­fer­ent high schools com­mit­ted sui­cide. School ad­min­is­tra­tors all over town threw to­gether sui­cide aware­ness pro­grams, rammed us through, then two more stu­dents killed them­selves.

So­ci­ol­o­gists call this “sui­cide con­ta­gion” and have learned that pre­sent­ing cer­tain deadly top­ics to cer­tain vul­ner­a­ble folks tips them. The wrong way.

Most shoot­ers have par­tic­u­lar ten­den­cies, be­hav­ioral and thought pat­terns that are lit­er­ally dan­ger­ous to re­veal, so we shouldn’t talk about them in an open fo­rum.

I’m not sug­gest­ing throw­ing out ac­tive-as­sailant train­ing for the pub­lic. I’m say­ing, study it

then bring proven meth­ods for­ward.

One mod­estly ef­fec­tive in­ter­ven­tion is in­sid­i­ous gun con­fis­ca­tion known as “red flag” laws. Since 2016, if a fam­ily mem­ber or po­lice of­fi­cer in Cal­i­for­nia can con­vince a judge a per­son is a threat and gets a re­strain­ing or­der, the gun owner is re­quired to surrender all guns for 21 days be­fore a hear­ing – which might ex­tend the “no pos­sess, no buy” or­der for a year.

In­di­ana has a sim­i­lar red flag law that was as­so­ci­ated with a 7.5 per­cent re­duc­tion while Con­necti­cut had a 13.7 per­cent re­duc­tion in firearm sui­cides when en­force­ment of the law ramped up over the last six years. Sure, a vin­dic­tive spouse or small­town sher­iff can make up crazy stuff and snatch your guns for a few weeks. But th­ese laws look like they might ac­tu­ally slow the workplace slaugh­ter, and cer­tainly that’s bet­ter than sim­ply more talk­ing about it.

Cal­i­for­nia’s law­mak­ers passed AB2888 in Au­gust, ex­pand­ing the cir­cle of cit­i­zens who could ask for gun re­strain­ing or­ders to co-work­ers and school per­son­nel, those most likely to ob­serve threat­en­ing be­hav­ior and end up as vic­tims. Gov. Jerry Brown ve­toed it in Septem­ber.

Gun lovers should do two things: Ask the new leg­is­la­ture to bring the bill back, pass it and then ask the new gov­er­nor to sign it. Then they should do­nate some money to the Madi­son So­ci­ety to de­fend the in­evitable good guy who gets caught up in ju­di­cial mis­sion-creep.

Enough with talk­ing about it. Too much talk might cause the next prob­lem.

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