Let me transition from the gun issue for a moment, the other side of the debate is not more guns, or less guns, it is the issue of predictive behavior. One of the leaders in violent predictive behavior is Gavin de Becker and in his book The Gift of Fear, he says that reason we do not see or perceive violent behavior before it occurs is because we are not asking the right questions. We spend more time dismissing actions, or ignoring them versus seriously looking at what the actions or lack of action is telling us. Here is an example he gives in his book – a man walks into a hotel that is only a few miles from his house, he has no luggage and asks for a room on a high floor. The bellhop escorts him to the room even though he has no luggage. The man hands the bellhop all the money in his pocket, and asks is there a pen and paper in the room. A few minutes later the man jumps out of the window and commits suicide. The person checking him in and the bellhop all said what most people say, “I never would have thought he would do that,” “He never indicated that he was suicidal.” The reason they never thought it, or did not perceive it, was because they were not asking the right questions. The person at the front desk was only concerned that he could pay for the room and that his credit card was valid, they did not even notice he had no luggage or that his address was down the street, or that he requested a room on a high floor. The bellhop was excited about the big tip for doing nothing, he did not ask the question why does this man need paper and pen and why did he give me all the money he had?
Now, I am not saying that you need to second-guess everything you see, but most of us do not really pay attention to what is going on around them. People only take enough interest in others to complete their job or objective. In most cases when there are mass shootings, there are always indicators…the problem is we tend not to ask those questions, or we tend to ignore the signs that are their because that person is our “friend,” or “we could never see them doing that.” Human beings are complex, yet fragile. And as we are becoming more and more advanced in technology, we are becoming more and more distant from general human interactions: talking, empathizing, observation and listening to people. You can probably reduce the likelihood of events like what happened in Oregon by people paying attention to those around them. Paying attention to what they post on social media, what they talk about in conversation, their most recent actions, or changes in their mood or behavior. And no, I’m not talking about being paranoid or stalking your friends. HOWEVER, if you have a friend who got fired by the State of Montana who all of a sudden starts stockpiling bullets, saying they hate all the people in Montana, and they wish they could kill them all and maybe somebody should go on a shooting rampage at the Montana State Fair…well you may want to let somebody know.
Events like Oregon are not just a gun issue…there is a lot more that has to be done and needs to be done to reduce the likelihood of events like this re-occurring. And let’s use the data available to better understand any patterns associated with this sort of violent behavior, not just for political banter.