As of the 3rd of February, 3,797 people have died as the result of gun violence in the U.S. – in 2020 alone. According to Gun Violence Archive, twenty-eight of these were mass shootings, while the majority involved suicides. Children aged 11 or younger accounted for 20 of these gun victims.
This violence underscores our expectation that threat management and violence prevention, particularly in the workplace, will continue to be a high priority for leaders across industries and remain a psychological keystone for Americans fearing active assailant incidents in their everyday lives.
In the U.S., preventing and mitigating this violence is becoming an industry of in of itself, a practice borne from necessity.
Supply Meeting Demands in the Gun Violence Prevention Space
Earlier this year, Inc. Magazine named gun violence prevention one of the eight best industries for starting a business in 2020.
The term “best” might turn some stomachs – no one should want to profit from violence. However, the reality is that the public and organizations across industries have an immediate need and desire for mitigating violence, and entrepreneurs have an opportunity in the market to capitalize on that demand. For example, the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2019 survey indicated that half of Human Resources professionals had responded to a workplace violence incident.
The Barriers and Downfalls of Entering the Gun Violence Prevention Industry
I spent some time discussing these issues with the Inc. magazine reporters, Sophie Downes and Graham Winfrey, as part of their research into what is required of a business seeking to enter this space.
There are several barriers for entry, particularly given that this is an inherently sensitive and evolving practice (Inc. notes that even the experts cannot unanimously agree on best practices).
Violence prevention and gun violence, as a whole, is governed by often complex state and local laws as well as Human Resource regulations. Businesses operating in the space must make sure that they understand laws and regulations and help clients develop policies that are compliant. Additionally, personnel in the violence prevention industry often have a military or law enforcement background or niche expertise in fields such as technical security, intelligence analysis or psychology.
While having integrated expertise across all of these disciplines is a major differentiator for Hillard Heintze, it’s a tall order for companies newly entering the space. The Hillard Heintze Threat and Violence Risk Management practice is a multi-disciplinary team with backgrounds in law enforcement, threat and violence risk management, clinical psychology, corporate security, protective intelligence and executive protection, among many others. We have been carefully building this team over the past 15 years, drawing on many of the industry’s most accomplished experts and training a generation of new ones.
Arguably more so that any of the other industries mentioned in the article, gun violence prevention is predicated on the most serious of consequences: life or death. Liability is a significant concern, if drills go awry or regulations are not entirely followed.
The Lives to be Saved and the Money to be Made
One of the themes of the article was what advice we can give someone with a military or law enforcement background who might be contemplating a career change to specializing in gun violence prevention. To succeed, they would need to develop a strong competency in threat assessment or protective intelligence and be able to properly gather and assess information about persons who may have the interest, motive, intention, and capability of mounting a targeted violence attack using a gun.
Inc.’s article does not end on a low note for those interested in gun violence prevention; security services related to this field capture billions of dollars a year, particularly for equipment such as metal detectors that can hypothetically identify weapons before they are carried into a theater, school, museum, newsroom – any space that could be a target.