But I do so hate it when my peer professionals use it to forward the security agenda.
In an 11 April 2014 op-ed in The Epoch Times, Vincent J. Bove, CPP, told the American people:
Active shooter tragedies have reached staggering proportions in America and each company, school, facility, house of worship, agency, and community is a potential victim. Law enforcement and private security must exercise leadership, vigilance, and collaboration to protect those entrusted to their care...
If only that leadership took the form of telling and retelling an irrationally frightened U.S. populace some important facts.
Misuse of the term "active shooter" has become problematic. In most cities across America violent (as well as property) crime has been falling since the 1990s. Workplace homicide is at its lowest since tracking began in 1992. The rate of mass murder has not changed in decades. Less than 2% of all homicides of children ages 5-18 occur in school. Our children are safer at school than they are at home.
Mr. Bove is not alone in shaping the message to suit his narrative. His op-ed also told us:
Addressing police chiefs in Philadelphia on Oct. 21, 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder said the United States saw an average of five active shooting incidents a year between 2000 and 2008. “Alarmingly, since 2009, this annual average has tripled. We’ve seen at least 12 active shooter situations so far in 2013,” Holder said.
The crisis we face is one of perception, perceptions fed by a 24 hour news cycle that frantically grasps at our eyeballs with lurid crime coverage, perceptions encouraged in the craven pursuit of political and institutional agendas. Too often thought leaders choose to contribute to the moral panic of the day rather than engaging in a productive public discussion of the facts.
We can do better, if only we summon the will to examine the facts and tell the truth.
Until that day, pay very careful attention to politicians, talking heads, and other persons described as experts. Remember: Workplace Violence ≠ Targeted School Shooting ≠ Mass Murder ≠ Active Shooter ≠ Mass Shooting. Anyone who does not care about the differences is selling something. What is it they want to do? What is it they want you to do?
Photo credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_panic