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January 18, 2013 11:00 AM Being “Prepared” for Horrible Things that Should Never Happen

By Daniel Luzer

According to an opinion survey conduced by Campus Safety, 1 in 4 campuses are not prepared to respond to active shooters. Surprised?

And on Wednesday President Barack Obama issued several executive actions with regard to guns. One of them was a call for “model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.”

That’s all very constructive, but what would it take for campuses to be prepared to respond to active shooters? The Campus Safety survey also asked about campuses’ preparedness for weather emergencies or hazmat incidents. But weather emergencies and hazardous material accidents just happen occasionally on campuses. The potential existence of an active shooter is the problem here, not the “prepared to respond” part.

This strikes me as rather like asking a company how it’s prepared to address a massive wave of employee theft. Well, it prepares by making sure the problem doesn’t occur.

Is there anything campuses can do to be fully prepared to address crazed gunmen? It’s the presence of crazed gunmen that’s the problem, not the procedures in place to deal with them.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer