Reducing Violence is About Not Grabbing a Gun

My good friend Pete Turner has written an enlightening piece "Reducing Violence is About Not Grabbing a Gun" Pete has spent years in conflict zones advising military commanders on how to best better understand their operational effect. More importantly for these leaders is developing their organizational ability create a repeatable and lasting positive affect. Affects are achieved by leveraging culture. Using existing cultural systems allows organizations to speed partnering and success. Pete has survived in the harshest most complex environments due to his ability to see these cultural systems; and communicate between disparate groups.

Following his time deployed in conflict zones, He has worked successfully to apply my cultural tools to civilian practices. Despite working in corporate settings, he continue to see how organizations either capitalize or miss opportunities to accomplish goals through and with culture. Bellow is his piece:

Like the rest of us, I was rocked by the tragic shooting in Orlando this past week. I was disappointed in the hyperbolic op-eds from “gunaphobes” here and here that contribute nothing to the greater good. Another article was so different from my perspective, I read it three times to accept the message and again came away with little in terms of possible answers. Another blog proposed arming the US military reserves…which is a TERRIBLE idea.

I like guns, I own several, I’m a combat veteran. I’ve had a bullet whiz within 6 inches of my head. I’ve been in extended gun fights. At times, I’ve had been authorized to carry a concealed pistol. Shooting isn’t my hobby, but I do shoot enough to keep fresh. On a good day I can group 90+% of my rounds in a 2” circle at 7 meters.

These details are provided not to promote my capabilities, but to illustrate what familiarity with weapons looks like. I can say without hesitation, that despite all that I have done, I doubt I could react and neutralize, with a concealed firearm, an active shooter who was more than 20’ away in a reliable, responsible, repeatable manner.

There are just too many variables, and unlike combat where a level of vigilance is required, most active shooters operate in a peaceful space until they act. They have the advantage of initiative. This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t act, but preparing for that situation, given the rarity of such events, and my extreme desire to avoid having to experience any more violence, makes me want to find another way to contribute.

Gun legislation doesn’t seem to be the answer either. Those bent on murder aren’t stopped by regulation or access to weapons. Timothy McVeigh used, “…a powerful bomb made out of a deadly cocktail of agricultural fertilizer, diesel fuel, and other chemicals.” He killed 168 people and destroyed/damaged 300 buildings. The possibilities for extreme violence and terror without the use of an AR-15 are limitless.

I read Gen Stanley McChrystal’s article this week and again I’m not hearing someone getting to the root of the problem. I am hearing him use numbers that don't make sense.

Here’s my take, mass shootings are horribly tragic freak occurrences. However, the people bearing the burden of gun violence in our country, without the press or public outcry are black males. The CDC’s numbers on homicide are clear. African American men more than any other demographic are at risk of being murdered. In 2014 it was the 5th leading cause, 4.3% of their deaths…murders! When I see the outrage about weapons, I’m ashamed that we’ve accomplished nothing to reduce the violence where it most commonly exists. Again, CDC numbers in the report reveal that black males we’re the most likely to be murdered in 1980, once again, the 5th most likely cause of death.

As a society, we’ve ignored or given up the people who are paying the cost. This isn’t about politics or agendas, it’s about our judgment, our dismissal of people who need our help. We can do better.

@jonleongurrero and I had the pleasure of hosting @DeVoneBoggan the CEO of #AdvancePeace on our show and part 2. DeVone has been a national level story for his success in developing a program that changes this pattern of murder in urban areas. His change agents literally focus on the most violent offenders in a region working relentlessly to convert their behavior from violence to improving their lives...and it WORKS!

Last week we recorded 2 more episodes (which will post in the next few weeks) featuring DeVone’s associates. We spoke with, change agents and fellows from the program. Among many moving moments, one of the agents gave me the perspective I lacked. I asked about long term career goals and how to nail those down for people so far from that reality…he corrected me and said, that’s not my goal. “I’m trying to get them to not pick up a gun.”