The analysis of a private security expert
On Sunday October 1st, at 10 pm, Jason Aldean, a country music singer was performing at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. He had to abruptly stop his song when it became clear that the bangs they heard were not fireworks. From the 36th floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel, a man broke the glass window and was firing 9-mm bullets on the crowd with a shotgun, causing one of the worst carnage in the sad story of mass shootings in the United States.
In the aftermath of the terrible incident, security experts all over the world have widely discussed if the Run Hide Fight programme suggested for mass shooting incidents. Run Hide Fight is the response recommended by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security when an active shooter incident occurs. The very high number causalities, 58 people killed and almost 500 injured, suggests however a lack of adequate security preparedness to such a situation.
Rivista Italiani has contacted a high level executive of an international private security company, who preferred to remain anonymous, to have a qualified opinion on what went wrong in Las Vegas.
From what I saw and read on the news, the people there did the ‘hide’ and ‘run’ parts almost instinctively. Particularly the ‘run’ since it seems many of the victims suffered crush - not bullet - injuries. The risk of death by stampede in such cases is always high. From what I understand, the barriers around the concert compound, designed to keep people out, didn’t leave sufficient exit routs, which played a part in the high number of casualties.
So the first lesson, as we teach our people, is to stay down until it is safe to run. You run only if you’re sure it is safer than to hide. Especially when you can’t see where the danger is.
In any case, adopting the right behaviour instincts in such cases, as the US Government intends, is a long process. The message needs to come intensively and frequently. It takes repetition and practice for people to assimilate ‘les bons jestes’. Governments in Europe struggle with this too.
The tragedy occurred in a city with thousands of armed police men, 24h private security services and an extensive video surveillance (source Philip Carter, Slate, USA). What lesson can be learned?
The main lesson is that no matter the resources we may put to prevent attacks, if the assailants have the means and are prepared to pay with their life, it is very difficult to prevent such incidents. Especially when the person acts alone. That said, if there was proper control over what guests bring into their hotels, maybe the massacre (or at least the scale) could have been avoided.
Italy has a 5 times lower murder rate than the US (source Vox and ISTAT), a contradiction to the Italian image of a country dominated by criminal organisation like the mafia. Is America a more dangerous place to live than Italy?
Many people ask my why Italy didn’t suffer terrorism as much as other European countries. The answer lies in your question. Acts of terrorism require arms. And in Europe, access to arms requires cooperation with criminal organizations. In places like UK, Belgium and France, radical Islamists can source weapons from predominantly-Muslim local crime organization. But in Italy, this world is dominated by the very Catholic mafia which operates with some very strict codes, and will not supply arms to Muslims.
I think that the same codes apply to the how, when and against who violence is used. And, Italy is still a society where old values hold strong: family, community, religion - all the things that connect people and help a person in hardship, so they don’t resort to senseless acts. In short, yes, I think Italy is safer than many other countries, not just the US.