Chief Marketing Officer
Publish dateJan 12, 2023
If it seems like every time you turn on the news there’s another story about a mass shooting, that’s because it continues to happen. It comes as no surprise that gun-related deaths have been on the rise in recent years. The U.S. experienced more than 600 mass shootings in 2022, nearly double the number recorded four years ago when there were 335, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
The victims are our children, colleagues, friends and neighbors. They are randomly killed while grocery shopping, working, and attending parades. Others are the targets of hate crimes against historically marginalized communities. Nobody is immune from the gun violence epidemic.
As 2023 gets underway with more than thoughts and prayers for the millions of people affected by gun violence, we asked industry experts to share their recommendations for a better, safer future - one where we can gather publicly without fear and anxiety that our time may be cut short due to a senseless act of gun violence.
Our expert panel consists of:
- Jill Lemond, director of education at Evolv
- John Pistole, former United States Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant secretary for homeland security under President Barack Obama, the faculty chair of the homeland-security program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and author of The Devil Never Sleeps: Learning to Live in an Age of Disasters
- Bilal Zuberi, general partner at Lux Capital
We know it is difficult to explore this topic, but the gun violence epidemic cannot be ignored. We came away from our conversations with more than hope – our experts offer specific insights and actions we can all take to stem the violence. We welcome additional thoughts from the community and encourage you to reach out with your ideas.
Prediction #1: Schools and communities will work more closely together to improve school safety, and public safety as a whole, using a holistic approach that integrates people, processes and technology.
The rise in school shootings will result in schools and communities working more closely together on school safety planning. According to Jill Lemond, “Parents are getting more involved, there are greater efforts to incorporate the mental health needs of students, and there are fantastic technology solutions to help address the mental health and the physical security needs of schools. We’ll continue to see schools and communities working more closely together along with a continued demand by parents to install weapons detection systems in schools.”
As schools and communities work more closely together, John Pistole offers this advice on ways to help prevent school shootings.
“There are three actions school administrators and school boards can take. First is recognizing that there is a gun violence issue in this country. Second is to mitigate the risk of a school shooting. This may include increasing the presence of physical security with off duty police officers or school resource officers, combined with more advanced locks and access control systems. The third part is taking action. For example, there are still some COVID-19 relief funds available that are designed for public health. With their fairly broad limitations, those funds can be used as part of the actions to increase school safety.”
According to security expert Juliette Kayyem, schools will always be vulnerable and new perspectives are needed. “In that regard, there must be more focus on the duty of parents [and caregivers] in terms of practicing responsible gun ownership and I think we’ll see more of that in the future. I can also imagine changes to the guiding principle of ‘run, hide, fight’ when it comes to security and mass shootings.
Running is preferred; hiding if it is the only response possible; fighting if there is no other choice. Since no active shooter situation is the same, this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. If we are to be guided by facts, and consider our safety training based on the available evidence, then we need to further assess whether, in an age when so much damage can be done so quickly by guns that should not be on the street, “Run, hide, fight” is still the correct public messaging. With killers having the capacity to end the lives of so many people so fast, neither running nor hiding may be the best first option. I’m now asking myself whether we in the U.S. have been too dismissive about fighting back. I’m not ready to say I want my young kids to fight if, God forbid, they encounter a mass shooter. But I’m willing to admit that maybe I want someone present to fight for them.”
Zuberi anticipates more investments in physical security being reviewed by non-security executives. He said, “More business leaders, board members and other stakeholders are getting involved in selecting physical security systems and this will continue throughout 2023. The change happened as security was dealing with staff turnover and outdated metal detectors, and business leaders and other stakeholders outside of security wanted to improve the customer experience.”
“There are two axes to consider when it comes to security. The first is the number of people exposed to a potential threat and the economic impact of an incident. For example, think about where most people congregate; it’s festivals, fairs, concerts, etc. We’ll see more security investments around those venues.
The other axis is the economic impact of a death or shooting incident. For example, the impact of a targeted shooting in a nightclub is horrible, but the economic impact is relatively low compared to a random shooting at work or a supermarket. Those incidents lead to more widespread fear and terror that rips through society, therefore having a greater economic impact.”
“Because of these factors, we’re starting to see companies, hospitals and large buildings with lots of activity and people invest more in security. We’ll continue to see schools invest in security technology.”
Prediction #2: We will see improvements to some, but not all, of the biggest threats to public safety.
We asked the experts about the biggest threats to public safety and what they believe can and should be done to address those vulnerabilities. The biggest areas of vulnerability are schools and select public venues.
According to Lemond, “The biggest threat facing school administrators is having to do more with less. A big part of an administrator’s role requires finding qualified professional staff to serve the needs of the school and the community while keeping students safe in school. Right now, it feels like they’re tasked with the impossible as mental health issues are on the rise and fewer teachers and administrators enter the profession. I predict we’ll see some improvements when it comes to addressing the needs of administrators, especially as hiring gaps become even greater, having a ripple effect on students and ultimately school safety.”
In terms of the rise of swatting, Lemond believes, “Swatting will continue until there is a unified approach to the consequences. However, more states are enacting stricter laws around it and this is resulting in fewer hoaxes. Once other students see that false alarms are resulting in felony prosecutions, the swatting calls will decrease.”
Public venues that support progressive or diverse communities
“As we look at the rise in gun violence, one area of great concern are public places and events that support progressive or diverse communities. In particular, LGBTQ+ events and clubs. Equally at risk are synagogues due to the rise in antisemitism that’s being nurtured and amplified on social media platforms that neglect content moderation. While antisemitism is largely shamed, there seems to be a willingness in our society to explore the justifications for shootings in the LGBTQ+ community. We all need to be more cognizant of what is happening around us and continue to enforce the law to protect our most vulnerable populations,” said Kayyem.
From Zuberi’s perspective, “In 2023, expect more businesses to respond to the transition in physical security as it goes from being a services business to a technology business. Right now, there’s an existential crisis that is fundamentally changing how business owners view security in their establishments. They’re realizing that it’s not enough to install just any type of security system. They also know their businesses may not exist if a tragedy such as a shooting were to happen onsite as potential customers feel unsafe and stop coming and potential employees don’t want to work there. We’ve seen this play out in other parts of the world as suicide bombers and rioters attack public venues. They’re more likely to attack American chain hotels and restaurants and we know that after an attack, customers are less likely to go to those places.
In 2023, I expect investments in security technology will increase. Specifically, in-network connected, distributed sensors that are used by best-on-class leaders to allow us to more quickly and cost effectively detect threats to human security and intervene. Much like cybersecurity has become part of our everyday lives, so will physical security.”
Prediction #3: Unfortunately, we will see a greater number of tragedies become more complex due to cyber threats and ineffective incident response.
“I think we are unfortunately going to see more shootings and one of my biggest concerns is that we’ll see a physical attack combined with a cyberattack,” said Pistole.
“A recipe for disaster is brewing due to a lack of consistent enforcement of red flag laws and suspicions about the actions law enforcement took in Uvalde. No matter how much you regulate and write new laws to protect people, they need to be enforced. One of my biggest concerns is that parents will hear about an active shooter incident, whether it’s real or a hoax, and run into the schools because they don’t trust law enforcement,” said Kayyem.
From Zuberi’s point of view, “While there will likely be more incidents, what is changing is that physical security and safety is becoming more part of our everyday life and more personal. We saw this change with the COVID-19 pandemic as people realized that their physical safety was in danger depending on where they went.
“For so long, when we went to stadiums or concerts, we thought someone else was taking care of security. While this is true, we are still seeing incidents like in Las Vegas where a bad actor got through. Along with security shifting from a service to technology, what’s also changing is that people are doing more to protect their own physical safety. Just like Moms Demand Action started the day after the Sandy Hook tragedy, we see more people using their voice to influence change.”
“I have a request that I hope becomes a reality in the future. It’s that the media stop publicizing the names of school shooters and giving attention to the crisis. If school shooters didn’t get so much attention in the news, shootings may not happen as much. Instead of focusing on the shooting, the media should focus on how families and communities can heal. After a school shooting, so many people ask how they can help. There are many ways the public can help such as donating to resiliency centers that are set up in the cities and towns where mass shootings have occurred. The media can play a better role in highlighting what the public can do and bring greater awareness to the mental health resources that are available,” said Lemond.