The week has tragically been marred by the fatal outcomes of two public shootings.
One at a shopping mall in Oregon killed two and the other at an elementary school in Connecticut that resulted in the deaths of 28.
Both are terrifying and hard to digest and especially the shooting of 20 young children and seven adults, not including the shooter, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. It is unfathomable that someone could walk into a room full of children, look at their faces and then proceed to shoot.
While these horrible incidents have happened hundreds and thousands of miles away from Auburn, it’s impossible not to feel the impact of them.
There will likely be political debates and arguments further deepened because of these tragedies. However, now is the time to remind ourselves and loved ones to remain ever vigilant in regard to our safety and the safety of other innocent people.
Mass shootings are sadly a part of our history worldwide. An Associated Press timeline of some of the deadliest shootings in the world dates back to Aug. 1, 1966 when Charles Whitman shot and killed 13 and wounded 31 from the University of Texas at Austin clock tower.
Since then they’ve continued and each one shocking and gripping.
Having two happen in one week, especially during the holiday season, is enough to enrage and frighten at the same time.
People will make calls for more or less gun control or various other types of reform in an attempt to prevent or instill safeguards for the millions of people who act sanely and safely in public.
However, no safeguard, law, or gun in the world is as effective as a vigilant person looking for signs that trouble may come. A vigilant person steps out of their house each day knowing that they may face trouble and think about how they would handle it.
We are better served talking to our families, loved ones and children about the reality that dangers exist even in the places where we think we are the safest. In Newtown, Conn., for example, one man interviewed right after the shooting said they thought they lived in the safest town in America.
We’ve come close in our own backyard.
In October 2010, shoppers at the Galleria Mall in Roseville were evacuated and shocked when a man entered the popular venue and set fire to a portion of the mall, which resulted in millions of dollars in damages.
Luckily the only damage done was to property and not lives. However, ask yourself, what would you have done in that situation? What if instead of setting a fire, he had started shooting?
Just this week in Meadow Vista a resident was shooting a BB gun in their backyard, which was close to Sierra Hills elementary. He was shooting away from the school and not causing any harm. Not knowing that at the time, whoever heard it on campus did the right thing by calling law enforcement to investigate.
Talk to your loved ones and children about what to do in an emergency situation. Train each other that if something or someone seems suspicious, head for safety or call police right away. Ask each other, what would you do if a person with a gun walked into your place of work, school or home today? How would you protect yourself and those around you?
These horrible tragedies and those who inflict them are extensively analyzed in the days, weeks and months following.
Sometimes the shooters have left behind clues or signs. Other times they’ve been reported as reclusive. In other situations, such as the shooter in Oregon this week, it’s a shock to those who knew them.
Analyzing, reflecting and remembering are important, but it’s not a guarantee of future safety. We cannot always predict human behavior and a warning sign in hindsight may have been innocuous before a tragedy.
The only thing we can do is think of how we can protect ourselves, our loved ones, and then cherish every day and moment we have together with them.