Facts and History about American Mall Shooting 
National Security Implication
Ever since the 9/11 terrorists attacks on the United States, Homeland Security and state officials are concerned about attacks on retail malls. They worry that malls across the country might become “soft” targets for terrorists, since malls give potential shooter a large number of targets, high media visibility, lack of an onsite armed security response, and easy space to escape from. Many popular culture content creators have already explored this type of nightmare scenario. Tom Clancy, the military thriller writer who predicted the use of 747 as a weapon of mass destruction on the US Capitol Building, wrote about Islamic terrorists attacking an American mall in his novel, “The Teeth of the Tiger. ” The popular real-time action drama “24”, starting Kiefer Sutherland, also had an episode where the terrorist attacks a busy shopping mall with nerve gas .
Making Mall More Secure
The increase of mall violence in 2007 and 2008 prompted most mall operators to hire more security guards and increase the number of mall patrols. While these measures improves the public’s confidence in the safety of retails malls, most security experts do not believe the measure will be effective in deterring a determined shooter. Some advocates propose a more secure physical environment like those used in Israel. Where terrorist bombing and shooting occurs frequently, armed security officers guard all Israeli public spaces, access to public spaces are monitor by metal detectors and vehicles searched for bomb and firearms. However, American mall operators point out that the proposed security precaution will have a significant chilling effect on mall visitation. No one expects retail malls to implement any drastic security upgrades such as those used in Israel, even in the face of rising violence.
Although mall operators won’t implement security screening and access control, law enforcement, mall and retail operators are making more effort to improve emergency responses. The biggest law enforcement paradigm shift came after the Columbine massacre in Colorado. Prior to Columbine, the law enforcement’s standard operating procedure has been to contain-and-defuse. This time-tested strategy has worked well when dealing with bank robbery, hostage situation, and domestic disturbance, but the Columbine School massacre rendered the containment strategy ineffective by showing that some shooter plan on dying in the process of their rampage and just wants to inflict as much carnage as possible before they go out in a blaze of glory.
The lesson after Columbine has been that time is essential to reduce the loss of life that might occur if the police respond with the traditional contain-and-defuse strategy. Especially after 9/11, law enforcement now responds to an “active shooter incidence” by locating and disabling the shooter first before securing bystanders and the environment. In an ASI situation, first responders will not render medical and other assistances until the police conclude the hunt for the shooter. In situation, most bystanders might be detained and treated as suspects until the law enforcement agents can be certain that the shooter is no longer active, and then move to secure and assist.
Working to complement the changes in local law enforcement strategy during an ASI, the National Retail Association, International Council of Shopping Centers and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have created an emergency response protocols for ASI. The protocol recommends the mall operators and retail owners create operating procedure and train the employees on what to do when faced with an ASI. In the 15 page publication, the retail operators are asked to establish policies that deals with store employee response, improved communication and premise access with local law enforcement, training employees on what to expect from first responder, how to assist local law enforcement, and post-shooting issues.
(To Be Continued…)