The Expectation of fear: the effect of gun violence in America

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Story by Destinee Marking, Staff writer 

Local law enforcement officers are encouraging individuals to run, hide and fight if ever caught in a mass shooting situation.

Murray State Police Chief of Police James Herring said he encourages Murray State community members to visit the department’s website, which outlines the procedures for active shooter situations and other emergency situations.

“The Murray State Police teach the Run-Hide-Fight program developed and promoted by the FBI,” according to the website.

Run-Hide-Fight promotes escaping the situation when this is a safe option, hiding in a quiet, dark room or fighting the active shooter if your life is in danger.

Herring said the department evaluates incidents that occur across the country and learns from them.

“For instance, we are reviewing our written orders with officers now regarding the search and transport of prisoners after the Texas Tech police officer was killed,” Herring said.

Two of the most recent mass shootings garnering widespread media coverage took place in Las Vegas, Nevada and in Edgewood, Maryland. On Oct. 1, 59 people were killed and 241 people were injured during a shooting at a concert. On Oct. 18, at least three people were killed and two people were injured during a shooting at a business park.

Devin Parrish, senior from Ledbetter, Kentucky, said the shooting in Las Vegas was upsetting for him.

“Immediately after the news broke, I knew it was going to be bad,” Parrish said. “I wasn’t looking forward to the fallout of it.”

Parrish said the incident made him think about things differently here in Kentucky. He said he imagined what the scene would look like if someone carried out the Las Vegas incident here, but he said he realizes there is a point when he would not be able to do anything about it.

Calloway County Sheriff Sam Steger said individuals are justified in being scared and anxious following recent events.

Steger said a main concern right now is the possibility of a copycat situation. He said there are individuals out there who hear this is the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history and could be planning to duplicate the event.

“People should be more vigilant now than, probably, ever,” Steger said. “I always encourage people to be alert to your surroundings. What people tend not to do is call and tell us about something suspicious because they’re scared they’re going to offend somebody or misjudge somebody.”

Besides being alert and reporting suspicious behavior, Steger said he does not know if there is a solution to this violence.

Steger said individuals with the intent to harm will always find ways to obtain weapons and carry out violence, but he does support strict and strong background checks on individuals purchasing weapons.

“If we’re going to make improvements, that’s where the improvements would be,” Steger said.

In the current system, Steger said people can buy weapons and then sell them without the buyer re-registering the weapon, and he believes this should be changed.

To stay safe in situations involving an active shooter, Steger said no matter if it occurs indoors or outdoors, people should locate exits and run. He said sometimes when people are caught indoors, exits are limited, so the next option is to seek cover.

In both indoor and outdoor situations, Steger said getting on the ground and acting dead is also a way to stay safe.

Steger said if caught in a situation and law enforcement has not arrived yet, he supports individuals using their own weapons to protect themselves.

“I’m a firm believer that you should always protect yourself, but I’m also a believer in justifying the use of deadly force,” Steger said.

If people decide to take action, Steger said it is important they put their weapons down and hands up when they see police arrive.

After incidents such as the one in Las Vegas, local law enforcement increases security presence at local events in an attempt to ease people’s worries.

Hope Harbor Church in Murray is having an active shooter training on Sunday, October 22 at 10:30 a.m. Hope Harbor Church is located on KY-94.