First and foremost my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families. In today's day and age where news and information is so easily accessible it is easy to stay emotionally disconnected from the real emotional toll this can take on people involved. It is also important to acknowledge the officers who provide a feeling of safety during times of blinding fear. It is the bravery of these men and women that enable us to continue to go out into public despite the ever growing timeline of mass shootings. 

The reality is, however, that the fear continues to grow along with the timeline. When learning about shootings such as today's Columbia Mall Shooting I find myself with a sick feeling in my stomach which is accompanied by statements such as "Not again" and "What is wrong with people?". It seems that after about 15 to 20 minutes of processing the horrible news, the mind allows temporary relief only to be followed with sporadic re-realizations of just how severe the trajedy that occurred actually is. In the past I would take marginal comfort in the fact that statistically the chances of being involved in such nightmare are slim. I can honestly say that my mind has shifted from relying on the statistics to now questioning what I should to do to best prepare myself for something like this. 

Below is a list specific thoughts I've had or actions I've taken while out in public due  shootings such as today's Columbia Mall Shooting in Maryland:

  • Identified nearby exits and hiding places 
  • Heard shooting from an action in movie in a neighboring theater and pretended to walk to the bathroom to ensure that it was in fact the movie
  • Purposely left a store after seeing a person act strange and suspicious
  • Contimplated obtaining a gun license
  • Contimplated purchasing pepper spray 
  • Established a secret word for my wife and I to text eachother if we're in an emergency situation and cannot talk
  • Discussed strategy if my wife and I are ever in some sort of hostage situation

It is important to note that I'm not trying to say that I've had any sort of training nor am I claiming to have any expertise on how to actually handle such a situation. The goal of this article is to take an honest look at how shootings that seem to either occur more frequently with each passing year (or at least be covered more significantly by the media) impact our day to day thinking when out in the public.