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Workplace Violence Prevention News

101 California Shooting - 20 Years later

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Eight people killed at Law Office

Have things gotten better?

by: Hector R Alvarez

On July 1st, 20 years ago in a San Francisco law office a gunman opened fire, killing eight people before he committed suicide as police closed in on him News story.  Lives were altered, laws were passed in response to the shooting, including the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (which has since expired) and the debate continues on how to "fix" the problem. Guns are a part of the issue, but don’t let the political debate distract you, regardless of which side of the issue you’re on. My opinion on the debate – both sides should give a little and work towards a common goal.

At the time of the shooting I was really just starting my professional career.  I now work full-time to help organizations prevent tragedies like 101 California.  I studied the 101 tragedy, as well as hundreds of other workplace violence incidents, including several I personally responded to.  Unfortunately, there seems to be a common theme even 20 years later – societal apathy.  I realize that this sounds pointed, even harsh, but I continue to encounter it.  A lot of people simply will not get involved unless it directly affects them OR they can get involved without risking too much.

I believe things have actually gotten worst.  Personal responsibility seems to be at an all-time low.  The statement that “something has to be done” has become common vernacular after a tragedy.  But for most people it’s a feel good catchphrase – implying that somebody else should to do something.  I also believe that things are going to get much worse before they get better. As bleak as that sounds I feel that’s the road we are heading down.

Fortunately, it’s not all bad news. Awareness of the problem is at an all-time high, there are countless professionals across the country working tirelessly to protect our communities and organizations are starting to put more effort into prevention programs…but there is a long way to go, the pendulum still has to swing. Until we start treating each other with respect and holding individuals accountable when they step out of line, tragedies will continue to happen.  In our workplaces this means having the policies and procedures in place to address the threat of violence.  But more importantly it’s about creating a respectful and supportive environment where people are encouraged to work together as part of a community.

So to answer the question, have things gotten better, no they haven’t…but they will.

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