You’d Better Believe

The students were in disbelief. Everything seemed slow motion. One of the students thought the weapon sounded like a champagne cork popping.

That reminded me of my ‘ladies rifle’ the one I love so much for the fine art of game hunting. It’s light and easy to use and quiet. But it’s lethal and the backfire packs a bunch. (I have a Firearm Owners Identification card (FOID) and have taken hunter’s safety training classes.)

For those who don’t believe it can happen to you, anytime, anywhere, you’d better believe. When a gunman opened fire at my Alma mater Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., yesterday afternoon, my thoughts turned to all the fun times there, in that lecture hall and others around campus, learning, gaining camaraderie, finding friends and ourselves. Never, back then, did we believe it could happen, but today it’s a totally different state of affairs.

NIU officials did what they could. The mass notification systems (implemented shortly after last year’s Virginia Tech shooting) went out minutes after the event—warning students of the shooting via e-mail, cell phones, PDAs and pagers and sending visual alerts throughout the campus. First, a lock down; then more messages; then a note for all students to call their parents.

Seven dead. Senseless. I’m glad the gunman killed himself. That’s always such a relief, and I hate to admit it. I guess I can say that because it’s a blog and that’s how I feel.

When are we going to wake up and believe that it could happen? When will the alarm industry take a stand against illegal guns that ravage our streets and our families? Maybe we have to do more than fight false alarms—maybe we have to turn our attention to the big picture.  

When I dropped my son off at middle school this morning I told him what to do—expect that it could happen, even among the youngest teens and pre-teens--and get ready to run, hide and protect yourself. He told me sarcastically—‘Come on now, why would you think that would happen?’ I guess he already believes that it could.

Editor’s note: My thoughts and prayers go out the students and administration at Northern Illinois University and all the families affected by this tragedy. NIU is one of the greatest, best kept secrets among state schools. – Deborah L. O’Mara, editor, Security Dealer & Integrator magazine