Insights from the Aurora Shooting
October 23, 2012

Imagine going with your family to the opening night of this summer's biggest blockbuster movie. Imagine sitting in the dark theater completely engaged and enjoying the movie. Suddenly, someone enters the movie theater and starts throwing smoke bombs and shooting assault weapons at anything in his path, leaving 15 dead, 70+ injured, and lives and communities scarred forever. Sound familiar?

This is, unfortunately, a very realistic scenario that caused many to pause and consider, "is anything safe anymore?" How do churches and others who invite people to assemble protect their members and guests when acts like this are possible?

Not more than a few weeks after the Aurora shooting, a Wisconsin temple was attacked leaving several dead and injured. A suspect, described as a radical white supremacist, was arrested. A week later, a shooting at Texas A&M University as students prepared to start the new school year. Are public shootings becoming common place? Should churches be put on notice and be fearful of these random acts of violence?

There are at least two types of "lessons learned" from these shootings: (1) churches and ministries must have security plans tailored to their particular circumstances, and (2) churches and ministries must plan what they will do with regard to documentation of pastoral counsel, preservation of pastoral confidences, and reporting to law enforcement when their counseling ministries serve disturbed, dangerous, or threatening individuals.