Demand up for active shooter training after El Paso and Dayton attacks
In the wake of the 2015 shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, it was the churches that came calling.
When gunmen opened fire at malls in Omaha, Nebraska, and Burlington, Washington, in 2007 and 2016, respectively, it was the shopping centers that made the requests.
For years, mass shootings have been the catalyst for a surge in requests for active shooter trainings for the niche industry that offers them, and the two weeks after back-to-back shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, have brought more inquiries and business to firms whose focus is on ensuring the public and companies are prepared.
"The shootings have just confirmed for the world that these are not going away anytime soon," Jesus Villahermosa, owner of Crisis Reality Training, said. "Active shootings have become part of our society."
Villahermosa, a former deputy sheriff, is booked for trainings into 2020, and this month's attacks pushed clients on the fence to confirm appointments, he said.
"Corporate America is starting to realize a six-minute video is not going to cut it, and giving scenario-based stuff on the computer is not going to cut it," he said.
"People need to touch, feel, see the instructor, and have confidence in the instructor."
Thirty-one people were killed in the Aug. 3 and Aug. 4 shootings at a Walmart in El Paso and an entertainment district in Dayton, and the massacres have brought questions of how best to combat gun violence to the forefront of the national discourse.
But they have also led people and businesses to take safety into their own hands. Jim Hayes, a vice president at Guidepost Solutions, which provides security consulting and active shooter training, said more companies seem to be seeking "holistic assessments" of their facilities, indicating a desire to be proactive to mitigate the risk of a possible violent attack.
"The change has definitely been from an, 'Oh well, that didn't happen here,' to an, 'Uh-oh, this is happening in many different places,' and looking internally and saying,
'Well, we're not this type of business, but we share these common characteristics,'" Hayes said, adding that businesses are interested in knowing how best to secure their premises and employees now more than ever.
Emily Taylor is a gun rights attorney based in Texas. She teaches a class called Run Hide Fight! Survive an Active Shooter.