Community reacts to mass shootings

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Mass shootings in Ohio and Texas have reignited a debate on gun control and a push for more safety drills.

A gunman killed 22 people and injured 26 in a shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, Saturday. Within 24 hours of that massacre, nine people were gunned down along with the shooter, who killed them, outside a club in Dayton, Ohio.

“Situations like this are scary, but we have to learn to respond,” said Lt. Clark White, training coordinator for the Dunn Police Department. “When these things happen it makes you more vigilant and aware.”

White will be hosting a drill later this month to train officers how to deal with incidents like the mass shootings that rocked the country over the weekend. The drill is held every year.

Harnett County Sheriff Wayne Coats said his department also holds regular training sessions.

“As long as I am sheriff we are going to do what we can to protect the citizens of Harnett County,” Coats said.

He anticipates seeing an increase in gun permit requests in coming weeks.

“Whenever we have an event like this we typically see more people getting gun permits,” Coats said.

Texas authorities are saying the El Paso shooting spree may have been racially motivated after finding a manifesto allegedly tied to the shooter. Investigators have not determined a motive for the Ohio shooting.

White said the Ohio incident shows the limitation of law enforcement, even when officers respond quickly. Police in Ohio were on the scene within minutes of the first shot.

“The law enforcement officers did what they were supposed to, but even with a quick response time, nine people lost their lives,” White said. “In some ways it’s like a bomb going off, you may have five people injured or you might have 500, it just depends on what kind of situation you are dealing with.”

Advice for public

White offered a piece of advice for members of the public who might find themselves in a rapid fire situation, warning it is possible for a shooting to take place anywhere, at any time.

“We tell people to run, hide and as a last resort, fight,” White said. “There is nowhere that is immune to these situations and we all need to be aware of our surroundings.”

White said his department conducts regular training sessions on how to deal with mass shooting situations. He said the next training session will be held later this month.

“We are always working and learning how to be more aware,” he said.

In addition to stopping the immediate threat, officers also have to learn to handle other aspects of shooting situations, including crowd control and helping emergency responders deal with those who are injured.

As cries for more gun control once again surface, Coats said more controls are not the answer.

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” Coats said.

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