We have all heard this on radio or TV, "We interrupt our regularly scheduled programing to report breaking news: There has been another theater incident in (any town USA)..." For a family living a hundred or a thousand miles away, this is merely media news. But what about those Americans that are living this nightmare? Could anything have been to done to help prevent or deter the incident in the first place? Let's take a look.
Going to a movie is nothing new to any of us. We've all been numerous times. But now we have to ask ourselves, for our sake and for our families, "Have times changes?" And since they have, "What can we do to protect ourselves and our families?" You know, ten years ago, I never thought I would have to be writing an article addressing an issue such as this in the United States. Well, folks, the time has come. And here we are.
In previous posts you've seen me mention "Situational Awareness", knowing what is happening in your 360 degree world. The same applies here. While the debate rages as to what safety precautions theater owners should take, we still have millions of Americans attending theater showings every week. My concern, and what I'm addressing here, is what can we do today. What can we do today to protect our families.
Always have a charged cell phone on your person.
The longer it takes someone to call 911 and get the police en-route to our location, the more chaos will transpire. No one ever wants to be the one to make that kind of call to the police, but if it means saving countless numbers of lives, be prepared to make that call.
Know the layout of the theater you're in.
Statistically, there is no one place to sit inside a theater that is any safer than another, be it front, back, right or left. We've discovered this from studying the incidents in Colorado, Louisiana and Tennessee. It all seems to come down to being aware of our surroundings.
Follow your gut instinct.
If you're in a theater, and you get a gut feeling that you're not safe, listen to that gut instinct. A "gut instinct" is actually your eyes seeing something that just isn't right, and registering it within your subconscious before your conscious thought recognizes what is going on. This is actually a survival mechanism that has been integrated into our species for thousands of years. It has nothing to do with "being scared" or "being a coward". Listen to your gut instinct. There is no theater in America that will not refund your ticket if you go to customer service and say, "I just didn't feel safe in that theater because I saw, etc. Please refund my ticket." You just might have walked out of a very bad situation.
Surviving a lethal incident.
Why is it, internationally, that active shooters are attracted to schools, malls and theaters? One opinion is that these are locations that shooters know guns are not permitted by the attendees, and defenseless people are present. Another opinion is because at these locations, the active shooter has a better chance at mass destruction. In any case, regardless of the reason, you are now caught up in a lethal situation. Position your body below the seat line and move! If possible, move away from the threat and to the nearest exit. Escape the gunfire. The bad guys are counting on you having that "deer in the headlights" look and freezing, making you an easy target. They are not expecting you to be a person of immediate action.
You are a survivor! But just because you have survived a lethal encounter, it does not mean that you will be immune from the psychological effects of such trauma. Do not hesitate to seek mental health counseling and allow your family and friends to offer their support. You are strong, but you are human. Be sensitive to your emotions and understand that you have survived a rare and tragic incident.
Do I believe there is any reason to be paranoid about going out in public, to movies, parks, the mall, etc.? Absolutely not! We must continue to live our lives in a manner that we are comfortable with and accustomed to. Enjoy life, but keep a good sense of awareness about you when in public. If we give in, the bad guys win. This is America, continue to enjoy your freedoms, be responsible about your safety and stay safe!