Random Thoughts – Randocity!

Pulse Club Shooting and Reopening

Posted in botch, business, entertainment by commorancy on June 18, 2016

As we all know by now (and if you haven’t, you’re probably living under a rock), the Pulse Club was a primarily gay dance night spot located in Orlando, Florida. Unfortunately, as a deadly shooting unfolded, it has now become the unwitting site of the worst mass shooting in the US so far. Should it reopen? Let’s explore.

Shooting Aftermath

After that 3 hour massacre ended in the death of the shooter, this situation now leaves more questions than answers, especially for the victim’s families and those who were injured. In fact, my heart goes out to each and every one of the victim’s families. Those people who had gathered at that club that night arrived to have fun, drink and dance. Many had done so on many previous nights. Nothing wrong in that.

Unfortunately, the shooter had other plans. He entered this night club with the intent of taking lives. After 3 hours of standoff with law enforcement, the situation ended with the death of the shooter, but not before 49 people were dead and 53 others were injured and sent to hospitals. Let’s not forget about those who were not injured, but who were there witnessing this horrific event unfold. These victims may not have physical injuries, but they now have emotional injuries that may take decades and therapy to resolve. Survivor’s guilt is a real thing. A horrible situation for any business owner to contemplate.

Club Reopening?

The manager of the club, Barbara Poma, is trying to salvage this situation with her business and has vowed to reopen this night club. Unfortunately, the Pulse Club has now become a victim in its own right with a massive stigma attached: the massacre and all of those brutal deaths. This situation never spells a good end to any business. Barbara, if you are in fact reading this, I’d strongly suggest not reopening this club at that location. However, before considering reopening, you should most definitely wait (see below). There are a number of reasons why it shouldn’t reopen in its current form:

  1. Macabre thrill seeker tourists. Your club has now (and will for a very long time) become an unwitting tourist destination for those seeking a brush with the macabre. Yes, your club will now have people seeking to stop by and talk about the massacre, the deaths, the victims with anyone who will talk about it including to your customers, your staff and you. This will eventually become distracting and annoying to your customers who are there just to party. It will drive your existing customer base away. This will not be forgotten quickly or easily.
  2. Ghost hunters. Because of the 49 deaths in your club, inevitably someone will claim they have seen or heard the ghost of one of those who died on your premise. I’m not here to argue the merit of that type of claim, but I will state that your club will become a destination for ghost hunters looking for ghosts. Again, this will be to the distraction of your paying visitors simply there to have a good time. It will also become a distraction for your bartenders and other staff. This will also drive your existing customer base away.
  3. Regulars will shy away. For those who were regulars to your club and who were there that night, they won’t be back. Your club is forever tainted as that club that had a mass shooting and now holds that stigma high and wide like a badge of honor, except there’s no honor in that. For anyone who was there that night, the memory is just too painful and few will be back to avoid reliving that memory, especially those who were trapped in there for hours.
  4. Tainted by death. The Pulse Club brand has now become the unwitting poster child for mass shootings. What I’m about to write may seem a little crass, but you might as well re-theme your club to have heart monitors, hospital beds, and nurses running around if you want to move forward with this name. This is what people will forever link to this club’s name. People will not remember it for the fun party spot. It will now be remembered for the deaths and those living victims still in the hospital. If you don’t have any intent on capitalizing on this notoriety, you should change the name and move the club to another location.
  5. Because of at least number 4, you may find that your original customer type no longer visits your club. You may find that types 1-4 make up the vast majority of those who visit your club. They are not there to have a good time, they are there to take pictures, vlog, gawk, talk to your staff and generally be a nuisance to your club. It might even lead to confrontations that you and your staff might not want to deal with. You can never know the intent of a single person requesting access into your club.

What this basically says is if you reopen the club, your clientele will drastically shift from that happy-go-lucky dance place that it once was to that-place-that-had-a-mass-shooting. The above are not necessarily the reasons you want people at your club. The Pulse Club can never live its now-infamous past down. Even if you change the name of the club, paint it, redecorate it and refurnish it from top to bottom, that location won’t ever forget what happened.

Rebuilding the Pulse Club

The only way the Pulse Club can ever live again is by moving it to an entirely new location somewhere else in the city and rebranding it. You must abandon that building and let it become someone else’s problem and stigma to solve. What happened there is something that stays with that building, not with your business. If you want to get your business back the way that it was, you cannot reopen in that location. You must move your business to a new building. This is the only way to free yourself from the thrill seekers, from the macabre, from the ghost hunters and from those just morbidly curious. These people are not the reason why you opened your club and these are not the reasons you should want to continue with your club.

These are distractions that only serve to taint your establishment, chase off would-be new customers and cause your staff daily grief throwing random lookie-loos out. You need to ask yourself the hard question, is this really the reason you opened the Pulse Club?

Before you contemplate reopening the club, you need to let the legal dust settle. And, settle it will, I can guarantee that. Before making plans of spending money to renovate your club, you should reserve those funds for the upcoming legal battles that are about to ensue… and sue they will.

Lawsuits and the Future of Pulse

We haven’t seen the last of what is in store for this club. Just you wait. Some of the victims will file wrongful death suits at someone, anyone, for negligence. Where to start? The club’s owner. It’s as good a place as any.

Was the Pulse Club negligent in what happened? Well clearly, if the club’s staff had been properly enforcing at least metal detection or a pat down at the door, the guns might not have gotten into the building. Unfortunately, it now appears that this club was not enforcing any safety best practices when allowing patrons into the establishment. This could very much appear as negligent actions by the club’s owner. And, there are 53 living injured who can file lawsuits against this club. There are an additional 49 families who can also file lawsuits against this club. There are additional people like employees and those who suffered severe mental anguish at the horrific events that night who can also file lawsuits.

Unless the Pulse Club owner has engaged in specialty insurance in high amounts to cover such occurrences (probably not), she may find the Pulse Club out of business and her personal finances spent covering each and every one of those yet-to-be-filed lawsuits. It’s way too early for this club’s owner to be thinking about reopening the night club when the legal battles have barely even begun.

Clearly Barbara, as the club’s owner, you should wait out the legal battles before making plans to reopen this club. You may find that you can’t actually afford to reopen the club after the legal dust settles.

Victims

If you are a victim of this shooting, you should contemplate all of your legal options and you should do so quickly with your lawyer. If you are intent on filing a lawsuit, you should do it as fast as possible. The first to the table are usually the first to walk away with settlements. If you are one of the last, you might get nothing.

Was this club negligent by allowing a shooter with a Sig Sauer MCX rifle (every bit as deadly as an AK-47, just quieter) into this club? Clearly, the Pulse had very little in the way of security due diligence at the door. Is that considered negligent? Only a court can decide.

Mass Shootings vs Entertainment: What’s to blame?

Posted in best practices, california, government by commorancy on December 21, 2012

Note, my heart goes out to those who were hurt by Adam Lanza’s violent act at Sandy Hook.  This article in no way intends to diminish anyone’s loss that day.

After Adam Lanza killed 27 people at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut, congressional leaders are now aiming their sites on video game violence as a cause.  This knee jerk reaction came about because Adam Lanza was a ‘gamer’.  What child of his generation hasn’t played at least one video game at some time?  I would have been more surprised to learn he had never played video games. Video games are ubiquitous at this point. They are as ubiquitous as TV, the telephone and the Internet. In fact, video games are on telephones. Video games are not in any way a small industry that only a small segment of children play. No.

In fact, most big video game titles like Skyrim, Call of Duty and World of Warcraft today gross far  in excess of the proceeds that even the biggest films gross over their cinematic run.  Most children today play video games in some way or another every day, whether it be on their iPhone, personal computers, a console (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, etc), Facebook or on a handheld like the PS Vita, PSP or Nintendo 3DX.  Video games are everywhere.

Violent Games versus the Real World

Video game violence has been in games since the early days of video games on computers, like playing Ultima on the Apple II to Nintendo’s Zelda series to Plants vs Zombies to today’s most sophisticated pc and console games like Call Of Duty.  Video game violence is what it is and it’s here to stay. But, there is nothing at all that feels real about playing a video game or in participating in video game violence.  Yes, video games can become an immersive experience at times, but it is so far removed from reality that anyone who is sane and rational can tell the difference between a game and reality.  Note, I did say that anyone who is ‘sane’ can tell the difference.

With Adam Lanza (as with many of the other shooters), there are questions regarding mental state, which brings up a whole separate topic that is unrelated to video games.  We’ll explore that in just a bit.  However, I have been playing games since the Atari 2600 days.  I’ve sold video games and video game units and I’ve owned practically every video game system ever made.  Suffice it to say that violence in video games has never once prompted me to pick up a gun in the real world nor carry or point said gun at anyone (nor any other kind of weapon for that matter).  Not one video game has conditioned, persuaded, caused or in any other way influenced me to do anything violent.  Okay, I have to confess that I have thrown my game controller across the room because the game did something stupid and frustrating.. like crash and lose my game making me start over.  And, throwing the controller across the room was not prompted by the content in the game, but because the game itself was badly designed and caused me to start parts of the game over wasting a lot of my time.  I’d also never throw the controller at someone.  Breaking the controller in half, that’s one thing.  Hurting someone using a gun, that’s something totally different.  Personally, I don’t even own a gun and that’s also my own choice.

Gun Rampages

Let’s discuss some causative factors involving Adam Lanza’s actions.  Note, I cannot speak from personal experience as I did not know the Lanza family personally.  However, based on what I’ve read in the media, here are the issues as I see it.

  • Adam Lanza may have had Asperger Syndrome or some other form of Autism.  This is a form of mental distress.  That is, without a certain level of proper management of the condition, an autistic child can either withdraw and/or act out.  This is the first problem in a series of problems that led to Adam’s actions.
  • Adam was legally an adult at the time.
  • Adam’s mother was apparently an active gun owner.  She had purchased guns from a local gun shop several years prior to Adam’s actions. One thing, however, I am not certain of is how actively she managed keeping those guns safe.  Apparently, however, she didn’t keep them locked up safe enough as Adam was certainly able to gain access to them, load them and carry them to Sandy Hook.
  • Nancy Lanza apparently thought that teaching her mentally ill son how to shoot guns was a smart idea.
  • Adam’s mother had been having some mental distress of her own, perhaps in just simply managing her son’s condition.

The question remains, were video games involved?  Was any type of entertainment media involved?  Unlikely.  So, what did prompt this?  Let’s explore Aspergers just a little.

Asperger Syndrome

Here is an explanation according to Wikipedia:

Asperger syndrome (AS), also known as Asperger’s syndrome or Asperger disorder, is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.

Basically, these repetitive patterns keep the mental distress of the person to a minimum, the patterns give the person structure and order and allows the person to function in a mostly normal way.  If new things are introduced, the Asperger’s sufferer can act out, withdraw or produce violent acts.  Let me say that again, without proper management of Asperger’s, the person can act out violently.

I could see, however, an Asperger’s sufferer turning to video games to relieve the condition.  That is, most games are extremely repetitive.  The more repetitive, the better for this type of person.  So, I could easily see how any repetitive video game could provide comfort and stability for someone with Asperger’s.

Access to Guns and Mental Distress Disorder

If any one thing played role in Adam’s actions, it was easy access to Nancy’s guns.  Any mental distress can easily place a person into a state that is surreal or unreal.  That is, they can’t easily tell the difference between reality and delusion.  Once the line between reality and delusion has been crossed, the person may not have any conscience left to understand any actions that may be acted out.  With Asperger’s, something must have changed in Adam’s life that upset his everyday repetitive balance and he acted out.  Apparently, first on his mother, Nancy Lanza three days before Sandy Hook.  Then, killing her on the day of Sandy Hook and then killing 26 people at Sandy Hook.

Nancy, unfortunately, provided him with access to the necessary weapons to make his own fantasy become a reality.  So, off Adam went toting Nancy’s guns to Sandy Hook to commit his violence.

Were Video Games involved?

Let me start by saying that I’ve never played a video game where someone stocks up with guns from their mother’s gun stash, visits a school and opens fire.  So, I would have to say that getting this idea from a video game is definitely not possible.  Where Adam got the idea is anyone’s guess.  Perhaps he watch a documentary on the Columbine massacre?  Who knows?  But, it’s clear that the main problem did not stem from a video game plot.

Gun ownership and mental distress?

Instead of wasting time pointing the finger towards entertainment media as a ’cause’, we should point the finger towards where it belongs, at the gun safe located in a house with a person of mental distress.  Guns and gun ownership comes with a price (and not just a monetary one).  It comes with the price that you are responsible with what happens with the guns that you buy and store.  If you buy guns and store them in a house with someone that has a history of mental issues, then you are responsible for what happens after.  Of course, in Nancy’s case, she’s now dead along with the 26 other people from Sandy Hook.

Gun laws and gun background checks should include checking the background of anyone living in the home (or in proximity) with the person who wishes to buy, own and use the gun.  Anyone who is close enough to have access to the gun needs to also be background checked.  If any one of those persons has a history of mental illness, the gun purchase should be denied.  It’s quite clear that gun access in combination with mental distress is the most likely reason these children rampage schools with guns.  If they hadn’t had the access to the guns, they wouldn’t have rampaged the school with said guns as they wouldn’t have been able to buy the guns as children.

It’s fairly clear that gun ownership laws need to change.  These laws need to prevent gun ownership by anyone who is the legal parent or guardian over anyone with a history of any mental condition or illness.  I also believe that gun ownership should be denied to parents who have children that are not yet legally adults (and especially of children during teen years).  It should also be illegal to store guns in a home of children between the ages of 8 and 17 at minimum, but preferably children of any age.  Of course, if someone has guns already or they were handed down because of a will or other ‘gift’, then these are situations where guns can become present in the face of someone with mental distress.  For anyone purchasing a gun that will live in proximity to anyone of any age, the laws should require mandatory gun safety training for anyone who intends to touch, use or gain access to the weapon.  In fact, gun safety and storage training should be required to even get a permit to own a gun.  It should also be illegal to teach anyone with mental illness to hold, use, access, touch or otherwise handle a gun (or any other weapon).

Clearly, though, there is no real answer to completely prevent this problem.  Allowing any gun ownership can lead to another Sandy Hook.  Gun laws can only do so much without outright banning guns, but that cannot be done in the US because of the US Constitution’s second amendment which guarantees the right to ‘keep and bear arms’.  So, without repealing the second amendment, there is no real answer to the issue of these mass violence events.  Even if violent video games and other entertainment were banned tomorrow, the violence would not stop as gun ownership and mental conditions would simply continue to be influenced by other means (news, TV shows, movies and the like) and people would still act out.

Prevention?

Could Sandy Hook have been prevented? Maybe.  Maybe not. If Nancy had recognized the signs early enough (as in 3 days earlier when Adam acted out on her), she might have had him arrested or otherwise detained.  However, since Adam was an adult at the time, that issue brings up an even more serious question about mental illness. However, the US does so little to actively manage people with mental illness, especially when they reach adult age, I’m not sure this could have been completely prevented.  It’s clear, though, that guns and mental illness do not mix, especially those with Asperger’s, but any person with paranoid delusions could act out violently. We need better means to determine just who is in a state that could lead to such violent acts. Unfortunately, doctors just want to medicate and send people on their way. That doesn’t fix the problem, it just delays it. We need better from the medical community than, “take 2 pills 3 times a day”.

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