Events like the recent terrorist attacks in Orlando and Istanbul tend to shake us to our very core. Intellectually, we know something like that can happen any time. Emotionally, we’re never really ready.
After learning about such an attack, you may feel helpless, fearful, anxious, angry, or a combination of those. You might be wondering what you would have done if you were there…while at the same time thankful you weren’t.
The only way to make such a situation worse, though, is not learning valuable lessons from the aftermath. Looking back at event like this, we see a lot of very unusual reactions. Some people freeze in the face of unimaginable terror. Others spring into action, whether that action is escape or counterattack.
While there are a million reasons the human brain chooses one response over another, a big factor is advance planning. If you’ve invested the mental bandwidth to plan and consider what you should do in an active situation, the odds are better that you won’t freeze. Your brain is more likely to fall back on actions that you’ve already evaluated.
The most important part of a productive plan is the “in advance” part. While thinking and planning ahead for the worst isn’t guaranteed to help you, it just might make all the difference. Paralysis and indecision as to what steps to take next is not only emotionally crippling, but dangerous, so just the act of thinking and planning – now – is a productive step on its own.
We talked to a variety of experts to share some tips on how you can glean lessons from these tragedies. Here, we’ll go over some of those tips, and how you can protect yourself by taking some steps right now.
Is Carrying a Gun a Solution?
Deciding to get a concealed carry permit to protect yourself might be part of an overall solution. But the key words are “might” and “part.”
The first decision to be made well in advance is whether you are prepared to use lethal force. If your life or those of your loved ones are in danger, are you willing to aim a gun at another human and pull the trigger? Some people aren’t. The time to make that decision is now, not when you draw your gun. Sara Ahrens, former SWAT Team Supervisor and Trainer and Range 365 contributor, has a guide to the thought process of using lethal force here. http://www.range365.com/shooting-in-self-defense-part-1-mental-prep
The most dangerous part about carrying, if you don’t approach it as a lifelong student of it, is a false sense of security. A gun might or might not help protect you. If you decide to carry a gun for self-defense use, know that it accomplishes nothing without extensive – and ongoing – training and practice. Aiming a gun at a target on the shooting range is one thing, and a fairly straightforward skill to master. But you must invest equal, if not more, effort in developing your observation skills, situational awareness, knowledge of the legal aspect of lethal force, basic defensive strategies, and of course, operation of your handgun under stressful conditions. You need to have trained your mind and body, through repetition, so your brain will know what do to when your normal reality goes out the window.
Finally, if you choose to assume responsibility for protection of yourself and loved ones, it’s not a one-time deal – you have to commit to a lifetime of continuous education. Taking a concealed carry class will teach you a little bit about the laws of your state. That’s it. Unless you take a significantly upgraded training course, and preferably more, you will not be adequately prepared to use a gun in a self-defense situation.
Unfortunately, it often takes a disturbing incident for us to invest the time, money, and effort capital in a proactive self-defense strategy. (I had just such a wake-up call that motivated me to assume responsibility for an active self-defense strategy – you can read about it here.) Ideally, you don’t want to wait for your own bad experience to get inspired to action.
Are you willing to make the type of never-ending commitment? We’ll go into the details of carrying a gun in the event of a terrorist attack next time.
The Survival “Tool Kit”
Again, a firearm is only part of your approach to surviving a terrorist attack. As Ed Head, 20-year instructor at the famous Gunsite Academy explains,” Jeff Cooper, Gunsite’s founder, when asked if he ran a shooting school, would say, ‘Among other things.’ At Gunsite we teach folks to live safely in troubled times through a combination of firearms training and mindset. The product our students leave with is peace of mind.”
So where to start? First, check out this video produced by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. It’s called “Surviving an Active Shooter,” and provides a dramatized account of which you might expect to see. It might be disturbing, but has some excellent perspective and advice.