Planning for an active shooter.

Whether in a business, a house of worship, or even at a mall, planning is a critical part of making sure you prevent and/or survive an active shooter or bomber. Throughout this week, I will be sharing tips on how to create a plan specific to your needs.

While I have mentioned some items that may help protect you, it is important to realize that each house of worship (and business) is unique. Each has their own little idiosyncrasies that make them different from others like them. Because of this, it is important for planning to be done in-house, then reviewed by a professional. While you can have a professional do it all for you, it likely cost a lot of money, or they may miss something that is easy to see by those who use the building.

Before I go into explanations about planning at your house of worship, or your business, I think you should see the attached video about planning. Some of you have already seen this video, but it is worth another watch.

As we go through the week, I will try to help guide you through setting up layered security for your own church or business, as well as how to create the best plan for you. Until next time, I ask you to be aware of your surroundings and all that is going on, … Mark

The media and mass shootings.

Since 2000, active shooter incidents have been steadily and substantially increasing.  The FBI reported that from 2000-2008, there was an average 6 active shootings that occurred per year. From 2008-2014, that number increased to nearly 15.9  incidents per year (see report). The latest report, which covers 2015 and 2016, show that the number rose to 17 incidents per year. Given the shooting incident we have seen in 2017, I believe we will see even more of an increase. This leaves many to wonder why these instances are increasing.

While I have no definitive proof what caused an increase in active shootings, I have a theory that someday I would like to explore in research. Until 2006, the national news media covered shootings, but in April of 2007 that all changed.  In April of 2007, a mass shooter went on the attack at Virginia Tech University. Soon, we heard the name of the shooter, and the 24 hour news media, the national news, and even the local news seemed to cover every aspect of the incident, including insignificant details. In my unproven theory, I believe this coverage inspired copycat shooters who were looking for fame. I also believe that social media plays a role in mass shootings, and there is research to somewhat support both of these contentions.

Recent research has led some, if not many, to believe that the key factor of increased active shootings is directly correlated to media coverage of these incidents. In a research report by Dr. Jennifer Johnston, and Andrew Joy, there were two theories that have been investigated and linked to mass shootings. They enter a long line of others that have worked to support the correlation between mass media covering every detail and an increased number of shootings. The two theories that are predominant are the Media Contagion Effect with the subcategory theory of the Copycat Effect.  One finding of this study that was extremely disturbing to me, is that for every three incidents of active shootings covered on television, at least one new incident is guaranteed, or copied, within 13 days.


More disturbing was research conducted by Garcia-Bernardo, Qi, Shultz, , Cohen, Johnson, and Dodds, studied the effect of social media on active shootings in schools. The correlations identified were in relation to the social media platform of Twitter. They reviewed millions of tweets about school shootings. When tweets about school shootings went beyond 10 tweets per million about an incident, then there was a 50% increase of a school shooting within eight days At nineteen days after a school shooting, if the amount of tweets went beyond ten per million, the potential for another shooting went up to 85%.  If tweets exceeded ten per million in the 35 days from a shooting, it was close to 100% likely that another active shooter in a school would occur.


I could go on and on about this research, and their findings, but it would do little to cure the problem. What in the media drives these individuals to take lives? Almost all of the researchers involved with active shooter/mass shooter research agree that they are looking for their 15-minutes of fame. How can we reduce these effects? It really is quite simple. First, we need to make sure that we don’t identify the shooter by name or with a picture in our social media. Yes, that is what I said. While the human mind wants to know every detail, those details are also what feeds, or at least partly feeds, the next shooter to act. If they see that there is no fame in shooting up a school, or church, or business, then they will look for that fame in other ways. The second thing is that the national and local media needs to quit using names, pictures, and all of the gory details about the shooting. In order to do that, they would have to put the good of the American public above the eventual money they receive from ratings.

Perhaps I sound a bit cynical, and I probably am a little bit. All I know is that nothing would make me happier than never having to do a seminar on preventing active shootings and bombings because they were a thing of the past; kind of like the plane hijacking in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Unfortunately, I do not see this happening in the near future, … Mark

Should guns be in the church?

So, … do you think you are protected because you have people who conceal carry firearms in your church? Well think again! I have heard many concealed carry permit holders state that they will stop a shooter in a church. Looking at a large amount of research, I believe those comments are seriously debatable. I am not saying that it couldn’t happen, just that it is unlikely without specialized training.

I have researched this area probably more extensively than 99% of individuals in this business. There has been multiple studies that contradict what many individuals that carry in church say. In fact, many studies found that the only 15%-25% of soldiers in the United States Military will take a life, unless of course they are conditioned to do so. This includes those that were face to face with a gun . The same happens with Law Enforcement unless they are conditioned. What does that conditioning involve? It involves mentally preparing through training, whether psychological training or physical training. No, I am not talking about target practice, I am talking about tactical training. If the defender is not tactically trained, they could easily freeze. I reviewed the following You Tube video’s. Let me warn you, I do not like the name of these two YouTube videos (Video 1, Video 2) because it lumps all concealed carry holders into one category, and the title is somewhat offensive to those that agree with the 2nd Amendment. Still, I think the outcomes are close to as realistic  for people who do not tactically train and get themselves mentally ready to take someones life (if needed).

I also revert to several studies that were presented in books. Multiple studies were discussed by 2nd Amendment supporter, Lt Colonel Dave Grossman and Dr. Michael Asken (as well as others) in the book Warrior Mindset: Mental Toughness Skills for Peacekeepers. Another book in which Grossman supports having the proper mindset and training would be On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society

If you are planning on defending your church, especially with a firearm, these books should be a mandatory read! It should also be noted that Grossman, along with Carl Chin and Jimmy Meeks (former police officer and current pastor) provide excellent seminars on church safety, albeit slightly different than my seminars. Grossman (a former Army Ranger)has also trained law enforcement and soldiers. One thing that I learned in reading these books are what would usually cause an active shooter to pause,. One such concept is to take a side-step. Believe it or not, this disrupts the shooters vision and forces them have to reset their mind (and eyesight). This side-step buys you 1.6 seconds to take action. These books are filled with tips like this!

So, we get to the ultimate question; should there be guns in church? I do not advocate for, or against, guns in church. I will say that if guns are allowed in church, it is preferred that they should be carried by individuals that have tactical training and the mental preparedness/capacity to take a life if necessary. In most instances, veterans, law enforcement, and some fire and EMS people have had tactical training. Even if your concealed carry person hasn’t been in one of these fields, they can receive the training, and they can read books on mentally preparing.

Finally, let me close with my belief that some people should never carry in church. I read a story last week about the 81 year old man that was showing he was ready for an active shooter at a church function in Tellico Plains TN, who accidentally shot his wife and himself. The age doesn’t matter as much as the ability to safely handle a firearm. If you have someone in your church that carries in church, and you have a legitimate reason that they should not be carrying in church, then perhaps you should talk to church leaders  before someone gets hurt or killed. The wrong person with a gun could add to the death toll if an active shooter comes in. Thanks, … Mark