“Active Shooter” Training Blasted by Rhode Island Gun Control Advocate

Wednesday, November 08, 2017
GoLocalProv News Team

Assault Rifles
The Rhode Island State Council of Churches informed member congregations where they can get "active shooter training," following the recent mass murder at a small church in Texas that killed 26 -- but one local gun control activist is blasting the practice, saying it detracts from the root cause of the issue. 

"Just to hear this makes me so sad. I think we have to focus on the root cause, not having programs like ALICE going into schools, trying to teach a seven-year-old to throw a book at a guy with a gun, which just serves to terrify the kids," said former Rhode Island State Representative Linda Finn, of one active shooter response training system.

"These are overall infrequent incidents -- which get highly publicized -- but you're terrifying a whole nation of people when we should be doing prevention," said Finn. 

Reverend Don Anderson with the Council of Churches spoke to issuing the communication, and more, on Tuesday. 

"There hasn't been a lot of worry, quite honestly, in the faith community as a whole. It's been the Jewish communities and mosques though, who've gotten overt threats," said Anderson. "But with what happened in Charleston, and Texas, people thought, well, who knows when something can happen."

Active Shooter Training

The Council of Churches sent the following message to its members on Tuesday.

"While our hearts are grieving for those who died and were wounded in Texas, we must all ask ourselves if we would be ready if something like this happened in our congregation. We would encourage you to consider providing Active Shooter Training for your congregation. 

Your local department may or may not be able to offer such training, but the Rhode Island State Police and the Providence Police are available to do Active Shooter Training, and DHS (Department of Homeland Security offers a comprehensive training course. Here are the folks to contact to arrange for such a training."

RISP
Captain Derek Borek with the Rhode Island State Police was one of the contacts listed by the Council for churches to reach out to if interested. 

"The basis of the training is being aware of surroundings, and having a plan in place, God forbid something happens," said Borek. "It's a real tough situation. In a confined space, there's not a lot of opportunities. It's getting out to an exit or hiding. But [it is something], if you have never thought what you would do, how would you react, while you're scared."

Borek noted that while he has done school trainings, he has not done church ones. 

"I just feel like if someone walks in with an AR-15, there's not much you can to do, and we're getting away from the real cause of why this is happening," said Finn. "If we banned [automatic rifles], this would go away. We had a ban for 10 years, and lots of states have since implemented bans."

Advocacy, Religion, and Politics 

"I feel as though its fear-mongering and the NRA declaring 'gun free zones' such as schools and churches as a reason to get armed, it's just another arm of the gun lobby to promote fear and legitimize this," said Finn. "They're not doing this in Norway. These events happen in the states that have the worst gun laws. They have open carry at the Texas state house."

Anderson, meanwhile, spoke to his support of state legislation banning concealed carry at schools and limiting the number of bullets in a clip, which have both stalled at the State House. 

Linda Finn
"If you're hunting, you let off one shot, and you miss, [the animal] is gone. You don't need 30 rounds to kill Bambi," said Anderson. "But the gun lobby has a very powerful lobbyist in Bill Murphy, and nothing ever really gets out of committee."

"There is no panacea here.  And you're more likely statistically to be killed in autos going to church than getting killed by guns," said Anderson. "But there's a reason for the training - the chance is not zero. You want to be prudent."

Anderson then spoke to the role of churches and addressing the plight of the mentally ill. 

"The whole purpose of a community of faith is to be there for everybody, and that's people who are troubled. Just because someone comes under the umbrella of mental illness doesn't mean they can be a shooter, "said Anderson.

"My fear is that people will be labeled, like they're a monster, and not seek out counseling. I refer people all the time to counseling but I believe there's a spiritual dimension, it's not either or," said Anderson. "We want to make sure that our congregations are open to everyone and we're not putting up roadblocks."

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    Sample: N=403

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    Jobs and economy:  21%

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    State budget: 9%

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    Governor: 3%

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    Don’t know: .9%

     
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