It’s a sad reflection on our society that when a local police department holds a seminar to teach people how to react in the face of the unthinkable — an armed intruder in their school, their workplace, or even their church — we hardly blink an eye.
Such was the case on April 27 when Southampton Town Police hosted “Run, Hide, Fight: How To Respond To An Active Shooter” at the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton, a place more commonly associated with quiet activities like reading and children’s craft time than the crack of rifle fire or the screams of terrified victims.
Yet, almost every day, somewhere in the United States there is what can be classified as a mass shooting. It could be a domestic situation, which appears to have been the case over the weekend in a small town in Tennessee, where a 25-year-old man was taken into custody after seven people were found slain in two homes.
Or it could be what can only be classified as a case of domestic terrorism as occurred on April 27 when a 19-year-old man opened fire, killing one and wounding three others, during Passover services at a Jewish synagogue in southern California. The gunman’s toll would likely have been much higher if his gun had not jammed, forcing him to flee.
At the Hampton Library, Lt. Todd Spencer said experts have no single answer to explain why mass shootings are on the rise. Some say it’s because more and more Americans own guns, including powerful military-style assault rifles.
Others lay the blame on social media, which was originally hailed as a community builder, but has proven equally adept at deepening partisan divides and giving those who are mentally disturbed a place to find encouragement for their darkest fantasies.
Gun-rights activists often respond to such tragedies by suggesting that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to have a good guy with a gun on the scene. Such was the case at Saturday’s shooting in California, where an off-duty border patrol agent, presumably well trained in how to handle a weapon, fired at the fleeing suspect. Somehow, it’s not surprising that in the chaos of the situation, he missed.
In Bridgehampton, attendees, who took part in drills in which “active shooters” aimed at them, found it was just as hard to evade the soft foam balls being fired at them as it would be hot lead, just without the dire consequences.