Following the recent mass shootings in San Bernardino and Houston, Americans are afraid. This fear is causing panic, terror, and hate. In the search for answers, Americans are calling for extremes like gun bans on one side, gun ownership requirements on the other, and everything in-between. The purpose of this blog, however, is not to support a political argument, but to talk about the practical actions you can take to protect yourself and your family, regardless of what the politicians in this country do. It’s time to put your safety and that of your family’s back in your control, because no one, especially not a politician or policeman, is more motivated to protect your family than you are.
Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
The first step to protecting yourself is to be aware of what is going on around you. A great resource is Cooper’s “Color Code of Awareness” that breaks down the different levels of awareness in relation to a threat. Most people spend the majority of their life unaware of their surroundings, even in public, and it makes it easy for anyone with nefarious motives to hide in plain sight. Being aware of your surroundings means knowing the location of the people around you, looking around for any nervous or suspicious behavior, being aware of any changes to your environment, knowing where the exits are, and having a plan in the event of a life-threatening emergency. Violent situations like mass shooting happen very quickly, and can be over in a matter of seconds, therefore, constant evaluation of your surroundings is imperative, in the same way that keeping your eyes on the road is imperative for good driving.
Understand Terrorist Motives and Likely Targets
For most people, being afraid is where thinking stops. This is a problem, because when thinking stops, panic sets in, and a panicked person is less likely to think fast enough to save himself or anyone else in an emergency situation. The best thing to do with fear is to follow it down the “rabbit hole,” and face the fear. In this case, it doesn’t mean to go have dinner at your favorite ISIS member’s place, but it is important to read about who you fear and find out why they are hurting people. Generally, terrorist motives are political, and their actions are designed to panic the general populace. Obviously, it works. War has not stopped terrorism, only emboldened it. If a terrorist’s motive is to strike fear, they are going to pick targets that can cause high body counts. Knowing this, it’s prudent to take precautions when going to highly attended events or busy public places. Keep especially alert, and try to stay on the fringes on the crowds so that you are well-positioned to leave the area quickly, if need be.
Plan and Practice Emergency Scenarios
The next step in protecting yourself and family is to make a plan. What will you do if there is a mass shooting that happens where you are? What will you do if you can’t see the shooter; what if you can? There are generally three options: run away, hide, or fight back. Where you are in relation to the shooters can make that decision for you, so it’s best to plan for all three, and be aware of your possible exit and cover choices. Visualize your actions in the event of an emergency, and take self-defense and marksmanship classes to gain the skill required to fight back effectively, if need be.
What To Do In An Active Shooter Situation
This may be controversial, and if you choose not to arm yourself with a knife or gun, understand that you are putting yourself at higher risk to be a victim, because killers will choose to arm themselves. Owning or carrying a gun is not enough. If you have a gun, but don’t know how to operate it, you could get killed while you’re fumbling with the safety. Just like a car is much more dangerous with a new driver behind the wheel, it’s not enough to own a gun, you must know also how to use it and practice regularly.
7 Ways To Improve Your Self Defense Handgun Skills
Part of planning for an emergency is having a very realistic idea of its likelihood. Instead of believing media hype, which is designed to keep you in constant fear, research it. Be careful, and keep an open and critical mind about statistics, understanding that every writer (even me!) has an agenda, and statistics are easy to misrepresent without knowing a lot of facts. For example, if Canada and America were in a race and Canada wins, a deft deceiver would say “Canada came in second to last, and America was in second place.” Make sure your sources cite their sources, and think critically.
Americans are about 4 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to be killed by a terrorist.
Accept the Unavoidable
Nothing in life is 100% safe. Most Americans drive their cars every day, even though the likelihood of dying in a car crash is very real. Accept that to live is to risk death, and decide whether you’re going to cower in fear at life or take control of it.
Personal Freedom and Individual Responsibility
Each argument that appeals to the government to “do something” about our problems misses the point. The government is a reflection of what the people are willing to accept, however, no one can protect yourself and your family like you can, and anyone telling you differently is selling votes.
By Celicia L. Slafter