Shoot first, heal later? That's backwards.

Active. Shooter.

My hands are clammy as I type the words.

Active. Shooter.

I don’t like to type them. I don’t like to read them. I’m guessing you don’t either.

Ugly America, we had another shooting Sunday. I feel intense sadness: for the victims; for the shooter, and whatever caused him to pull the trigger; for the disconnect that the shooter must have developed in order to carry out such violence; and for our society that allows that disconnect to develop. How are we supposed to respond? Do we shoot back? How then do we heal?

When I woke up this morning, I began thinking through my day and how I would respond to an active shooter in various situations. What would I do if a client of mine pulled a gun in a therapy session? How would I respond if I were in a grocery store? I would hope that my training in managing stressful situations as a mental health professional would enable me to respond the way I imagine; maybe I would throw things at the shooter. In one training I learned that any object thrown at a shooter’s face could distract him or her. But I’m not a first responder, and I don’t have military experience. Maybe I would freeze. I might be shot before I get the chance. The concert-goers in Las Vegas didn’t have the chance.

I might be shot before I get the chance.

This is our ugly America. I woke up today and thought of Sutherland Springs. What would I do if an active shooter showed up to my church? What could I use to defend myself? Would I throw a prayer book at him or her?

I go to church to build up my spiritual strength so that I can go into to my office on Monday and do good work. I don’t want to have to throw a prayer book at an active shooter. I would much rather shake hands and share the peace with that person. I would rather share a cup of coffee with that person. I would like to invite that person into my office. I would like to help heal the disconnect.

Active. Shooter.

Tell me if you are hurting. Tell me if you are isolated. Come into my office. Pull up a chair in the coffee shop. Pray next to me in church. Leave your guns at home. I want to live with you, ugly America. I want for us to heal together.

We might be shot before we get the chance.

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