People are responding in many different ways, trying to process the killing of 49 victims in an Orlando LGBT night club.

Associate Professor Brian Houston is the Co-Director of the Disaster and Community Crisis Center at MU.  (photo courtesy; University of Missouri)

Associate Professor Brian Houston is the Co-Director of the Disaster and Community Crisis Center at MU. (photo courtesy; University of Missouri)

Brian Houston is the director of the Disaster and Community Crisis Center at the University of Missouri. He said many people might feel worried that a mass shooting like that in Orlando could happen where they live. Many likely feel angry, especially at those they blame.

“At the shooter, anger maybe at politicians or political leaders that are doing things, or not doing things that people think are related to allowing this to happen,” said Houston.

Others might dismiss the incident as not affecting them.

“That may be for a lot of different reasons. ‘I’m not part of the LGBTQ community like in this case, or I don’t go to night clubs, or I don’t live in a major city, or that could happen in Florida but not Missouri.’ It’s kind of … that’s a self-defense mechanism and a psychological defense mechanism,” said Houston. “Those justifications are pretty shallow. We’re seeing that these events are happening to all sorts of communities in all sorts of different places, so the rationalizations we make about why it won’t happen to us are really pretty shallow because of course it could happen to any of us at any time, the way these things are going on now.”

Children are likely to have a particularly difficult time dealing with the shooting and other similar events. Houston said it’s important to talk with them about it.

“It’s not an easy subject to talk about and that’s why, I think, a lot of us as parents are hesitant to really engage, but not talking about it always makes it worse. Makes kids think that it’s something that’s so scary and frightening that parents won’t even talk about it,” said Houston. “I think that we, as parents, need to engage with our kids when they raise the issue and maybe find ways to raise the issue as well, to see if there’s something they want to talk about.”

Houston said the thing that worries him the most about mass shootings and other tragedies is how long society will talk about them.

“The fact that the amount of time that we spending arguing and talking about them seems to get shorter and shorter after every event because they’re happening so frequently, and our attention so quickly moves to other things,” said Houston.