If Tragedy Strikes: 5 Safety Tips in the Event of a Mass Shooting on Campus

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Since the fall of Man, the rebellious heart has grown in strength. Our own culture, once considered unashamedly Christian, now identifies as ‘post-modern’ or ‘post-Christian.’ American culture has outgrown the need for faith and has turned to science as their god. As described in Romans 1:25, public schools teach evolution as the origin of all things without considering the true impact of this doctrine. The full impact of an evolutionary mind-set is more dramatic on the ultimate destiny of mankind rather than its origins. Evolutionary doctrine strips all dignity from man and makes our existence purposeless. Is it any wonder, then, that people are killing each other in non-combat environments? If there is no purpose, no accountability, no morals and subjective truth, there is no reason why we shouldn’t act on each and every impulse. This includes taking the lives of others.

We live in tumultuous times. Shootings are becoming a more common story on the news – national and local. Politicians are responding in varied ways; from total disarmament to full armament (and many variations between these extremes)! Law enforcement is working to equip the public with ways to respond and many college campuses now include warnings and recommendations on how to respond to campus shootings. This is the baggage that came with the free thought associated with man’s increasing knowledge and intelligence (i.e. scientific advancement).

Beyond the ideological shift in our culture, there is the very practical issue of what to do in the face of danger. Soldiers are trained to handle life and death situations, college freshmen are not. The following is a brief list of how to respond to this situation. It is not comprehensive, but provides a good outline of what to do in an otherwise unexpected situation. Here are 5 Safety Tips in the event of a Campus Shooting:

If a shooter is on campus and in your general area:

Pray and remain calm. First on every list is the recommendation to keep calm. Obviously, if panic, worry and stress were not our natural first response, the call to keep calm would be unnecessary. Coupled with the reminder to stay calm, prayer should be a normal response as well. The God who is sovereign already knows your circumstance; He who knows the end from the beginning knows what is going on as well as how it will all turn out. Still, we are called to pray without ceasing (in order to partner with God in bringing about His Will) and this is vitally important in this situation, too!

Warn others and call 911. Information is valuable and we have obligation to warn others of danger. This includes calling 911 to inform local law enforcement. As long as you can spread the word in safety – do it. You have a moral obligation, respect it.

Get yourself to safety and be quiet. Once you have done what you can (as above), get yourself to a safe place and do not draw attention to yourself. Being quiet includes turning off your cell phone ringer and not turning on anything that emits a sound (like a radio).

Observe all you can including description of shooter and number of possible victims. Simply stated, pay attention! Depending on your proximity to the action, you may be asked to provide information about the event and how it unfolded. Paying attention to details will also help you stay calm. Remember that this event will conclude (recall the comforting phrase in Scripture: “It came to pass”).

Be patient and wait for the event to pass. Patience is a virtue that few possess much of! In this circumstance, you have little choice but to wait. To venture out before it’s over is to take unnecessary risk. This will also provide you more opportunity for prayer and observation.

If a shooter is in your immediate vicinity (i.e. your classroom):

Pray and remain calm. See item #1 above.

Call 911 (if possible – be discreet). This may or may not be possible; if you can keep your hands out of sight and access your phone, call 911 and put the phone in a drawer or other place where it won’t be seen or heard. As long as you have your location service activated, a 911 operator should discern silence (or muffled sounds of the event going on) and realize that there is an emergency and notify local law enforcement. If this is not possible, don’t fret about it – there ought to be others notifying the authorities of the event.

Do NOT engage or provoke the shooter unless it is truly a last resort (i.e. if they engage you). You have no idea what the shooter’s motivation is. Do not call attention to yourself; you are not trained for this circumstance. Don’t attempt to talk down the shooter (like in the movies); it is not likely to end well.

Help others find safety or cover. As you are able, help those around you. This is an expression of love for your fellow man.

Pray more! This should be a normal response, but it is important enough to remind you about. Stressful situations can cause us to forget the most basic instructions. Prayer should be streaming out of your brain from the first indication of trouble.

In truth, very few of us will be found in this situation. But just like fire drills, being prepared for something that doesn’t happen is better than being unprepared for an unforeseen event. This is all part of walking circumspectly as mandated in Ephesians 5:15.

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