Historically, a campus wide "Welcome Back" event to celebrate the beginning of the new semester is held on Thursday prior to the beginning of the semester at Bakersfield College. The Spring 2020 gathering was no different. Several hundred students, staff, faculty and administrators filled the Performing Arts Center. The agenda is usually several individuals presenting information and data of past accomplishments and upcoming goals...but this "Welcome Back" event was a bit different.
A large portion of the event was dedicated to "Active Shooter" training. It started with a video produced by the Sandy Hook Promise. You can watch the video below.
Although powerful and emotional, I was enraged. I was now sitting in the middle of hundreds of emotionally dazed students and colleagues. The theater that was originally filled with anticipation for the beginning of the Spring 2020 semester was now filled with students and colleagues thinking to themselves, "I'm going to die", "We are destined a horrible disaster" and "It's not a matter of if...but WHEN".
We live in the greatest country in the world. Our freedom provides opportunities for individuals to prosper, but freedom also comes with a price. Our free society also provides opportunities for individuals to commit illegal or horrible acts of violence. "Crazy" or "Emotionally Disturbed" can not be legislated away without abolishing freedoms. As a matter of fact, it's difficult to identify how or why a "disturbed" individual thinks because they are "disturbed". Why would people fly planes into the Twin Towers? Why would a person shoot towards hundreds of concert goers in Las Vegas? Why would a person shoot church goers in Charleston, South Carolina? Psychologists, academics, and law enforcement investigate post-mortem in the hopes of preventing future tragedies. There may be a few patterns or behaviors that were exhibited prior to the horrible event. Maybe he (Yes, most violent acts are committed by males) played violent video games, raised in a home without a father, was addicted to drugs, was abused as a child, listened to violent music or did not take his prescribed medications. But as science has shown us, correlation is not causation. Unfortunately, this also means that will be more shootings in the future and we will not be able to prevent future events.
But I digress, this is not why I was enraged. I was enraged because people simply don't understand basic math and probabilities. Magician, Penn Jillette says, "Las Vegas was built for and by people that are really bad at Math." If we simply look at the probabilities of a shooting event at Bakersfield College or any school in the city of Bakersfield, the odds are extremely LOW. Students, staff, faculty and BC Administrators have a higher probability (although still extremely low) of being attacked by a mountain lion on the Panorama Bluffs. Are students and staff provided training against mountain lion attacks? Of course not, "What are the chance of that happening to any of us"? This is my point!
An active shooter or a mountain lion attacks are equivalent to winning the lottery. As a matter of fact, studies show that school shooter simulations do much more harm than good to the psyche of kids.
Here is a tip that has saved my life, my family's lives and the lives of others...and it only cost about $5.00: Drum roll please...a tire gauge. Data from US Department of Transportation reported 738 deaths in 2017 due to tire malfunction. Checking our tires is cheap, simple and quick. But let's not worry about things and events we can actually save lives versus random acts of chaos and violence.
By the way, our world and country are currently in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. If you still believe adults are competent in math, take a look at social media posts and see how great adults are at interpreting data and graphs. But what the heck do I know...I'm just Joe.
I am a husband, father, son, brother, uncle, friend and Biology professor. We are on this Earth for a limited amount of time. Let's think, laugh and love.