Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Defeating The Active Shooter - Fantasy Stage

Congresswoman Gabby Giffords has returned home and is working toward a full recovery.  Her husband is retiring from the Navy and they plan to write a book together about their experiences.  God bless them.  In our jaded times, few events are deemed miraculous, but Giffords' recovery is a miracle. 

However, this is a time to reflect back on the lessons learned about defeating the active shooter. In studying Representative Giffords’ case, I hope we can learn some lessons which will help us avoid similar future crimes.

Lt. Dan Marcou and I had dinner in May during the 2011 ILEETA Conference. He explained his theory to me; the Five Phases of the Active Shooter.

Dan is an experienced SWAT officer who has identified the following steps which bring a perpetrator to the instant of actually firing on innocent people. They are as follows:
• Fantasy Stage
• Planning Stage
• Preparation Stage
• Approach Stage
• Implementation Stage
Jared Loughner’s college banned him from the school while he was a apparently still in the fantasy stage.  Sadly, local law enforcement was never notified. Had the college teamed up with town police to address Loughner’s situation, the active shooter could have been defeated before a shot was fired.   
My understanding of an active shooter’s fantasy stage caused me concern when I learned that Super Columbine Massacre RPG was available to play on line. Time magazine reported about another School Shooter video game which reenacts both the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings.

I’m as much for the right to free speech as anyone, but this idea of celebrating the successful massacre of innocent people was not what the framers of the Constitution had in mind when the First Amendment was drafted. If this video game is not carnage along the lines of yelling fire in a crowded theater, then what is it?  

The active shooter’s first stage is fantasizing about the event.  Aren’t these games simply facilitating that process? In fact, one can make an argument that the creators are accessories before the fact.

Recently, in a 7-2 vote the U.S. Supreme Court determined that the videos I mentioned are protected under the First Amendment. I find this ruling disturbing. Now that the door has been opened, can a video be developed awarding points to the gamer who does the best job of sexually abusing a woman?  Apparently the U.S. Supreme Court is of the opinion this would be another form of free speech.

We're going to have to work hard to educate the public about the stages of the active shooter to ensure that both civilians, and officers, remain standing.

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