Sputnik: This program is an interesting one if it’s going to reduce the numbers of casualties in school shootings; it’s got to be applauded. What is your take on it?
Dr Marlone Henderson: I think it’s a good idea. I think at first it seems like security protocol they put in place will make sure that this is only available to people who may be serving the role to basically protect or help vulnerable people if a terrible incident occurs. Also they found research that we know, dealing with situations where this doesn’t happen that often. I think that actually this simulation would be beneficial because it would actually make it psychologically closer to people so more realistic, so it helps them prepare.
We know from prior research that if you are just thinking about these things in abstract, you think about how things are supposed to play out, and then when something happens and you are actually in that situation, you are not really prepared for an unusual or unexpected event. I think these simulations will help teachers or first responders prepare for the unexpected. I think that usually what is happening in these troubled situations is that people overwhelmed by emotions, they have never been in these kinds of situations before and they are trying to figure out what to do. I think these simulations will help in making it more realistic, more psychologically close for people and I think it will help them prepare for the unexpected, hopefully save lives.
Sputnik: Some critics have suggested that this program could be used as a simulator for a potential shooter him or herself. Some experts have accused shooting games on being a contributory factor to the recurring school shootings, what are your thoughts on those two angles?
Dr Marlone Henderson: There is certainly a sizeable amount of psychological research that supports the idea that playing violent video games does seem to increase violent tendencies, at least in the short term, at least in the way we are able to measure it. From what I understood from the program, I think the developers of this simulation have taken steps to ensure that it’s only available to, it says that there is going to be a security protocol to gain access to the simulation. Now I would be concerned if those protocols become lax and become easy to hack into and get access to this, then I think maybe those concerns raised by experts are valid, but if they do a good job of really limiting access to this then its only available to law enforcement and teachers, and it says not even every teacher, then I am not concerned actually. I think they are limited to a group of people who are using it with the right intentions. They are not using it necessarily in a way maybe you would see in like a violent video game.
Sputnik: What is your particular stance regarding the leniency of gun control in the US?
Dr Marlone Henderson: I understand this sentiment particularly if you are not in the US. I think what these activities, like simulations, are trying to do is that they are trying to find a solution or at least something that helps, that avoids the political divisions that we have in our country. You see this a lot. If you offer resolutions that propose stricter gun control there is often either a push back or there is a call for moment of waiting, while people mourn and you usually see how the interest in strict gun control kind of declines as you move away from the actual event. So it is just hard because we have this entrenched interest in gun ownership and in gun usage and it varies dramatically across our country.
I actually applaud these kinds of efforts by Homeland Security because it seems like they are basically avoiding that conflict. I understand some people desire to enact stricter gun control but if you go down that road it’s just harder and you end up not making any headway at all. And this at least is trying to make some attempt at that, to help. It’s not a solution and in my opinion I don’t think it could completely solve the problem, but it’s a step in the right direction. I think it helps, and people no matter where you are in the political spectrum or your issues on gun control I think it’s easier for people to get behind something like this.
The views and opinions expressed by Dr Marlone Henderson are those of the analyst and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.