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Strike a Chord: Active Shooter Preparedness

Photo Credit: Samuel King Jr., Flickr

There have been more than 300 mass shootings this year in the United States. According to the Department of Homeland Security, if there’s an active shooter, people should run, hide or fight.

This past fall, the non-profit Sandy Hook Promise released a back to school ad
Nicole Hockley is one of the founders of Sandy Hook Promise. The organization was founded by family members who lost their children in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting. 
She said the ad was meant to spark a conversation about gun violence and said it hurts her every time she listens to another story about how kids in schools are sending messages to their parents thinking it’s the last message they’ll ever receive. 
“That’s not appropriate,” Hockley said. “That’s not right, and as a mom, that just hurts, and I want to ensure that other parents know that is real. We’re not making these examples up. These are real things that happen, and yet we have the power to prevent that. So it’s kids talking to the adults. What parent can’t listen to their kid.”
Hockley lost her son Dylan in the Sandy Hook shooting, and she said the organization advocates for prevention programs, where students are taught how to identify red flags of dangerous behavior in their peers. Hockley said these programs are much more effective than the alternative of active shooter drills.  
“Things like active shooter drills and lockdowns, while they have a purpose, I think we’re traumatizing a young generation. Teaching them to deal with an event of violence that we expect to happen versus teaching them how to prevent it,” Hockley said.
Sandy Hook Promise’s Know the Signs Programs have so far trained more than 7 million people
Hockley said that while there’s no definitive profile of a school shooter, people are taught to watch for sudden changes of behavior, social isolation, and depression in their peers.
“It can be anyone that reaches that that point of breaking, and it’s not something that someone just snaps and becomes a shooter,” Hockley said. “School shootings take planning.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security, if there’s an active shooter, people should run, hide or fight. 
Thomas Doherty, the head of an organization in Essex County, New Jersey that helps prepare communities for disaster, said situations like these are difficult to prepare for because every situation is different. 
Doherty said that if a person ever finds themselves in an active shooter situation, everyday items can be critical for self-defense. 
“Something as simple as a sharp pair of scissors or a heavy stapler or sitting in front of me right now my metal water bottle,” Doherty said.
Doherty said it’s alarming how many precautions people are now taking for the possibility of an active shooter situation. 
“We see clothing lines and backpacks being made for children that protect them from guns and bullets,” Doherty said.
Doherty said that these precautions have become the new normal in the wake of seemingly constant shootings in the news cycle. 
But there’s one thing he’s not surprised about. Doherty said that in the aftermath of a shooting, people in the community are ready and willing to help the survivors and their families in whatever way they can.