In mid-November, we saw something come to life in the Western world that many of us have been talking about for years. A coordinated attack of Islamic terrorists devastated Paris, resulting in more than 100 dead.
Several weeks later, two shooters in San Bernardino, California – each of whom had alleged ties to Islamic terrorists — stormed a building and killed 14 and injured another 17. When these attacks occur, call centers are flooded and police response is scattered. Police in these situations will respond the best they can, but it’s an unrealistic expectation to think they can protect you.
From now until the end of December, we are looking at the busiest shopping season of the year. Throughout this month, we will be neck-deep in malls, big box stores and other retail locations. These busy malls and stores are basically giant soft targets.
How much damage could be done in one of these places? The results could be catastrophic. Many people may respond and simply say, “I’m just not going to shop at these places.”
If you are avoiding them because they’re crowded, that’s fine, but if you’re avoiding them because you’re afraid of an attack, I think that’s wrong. The likelihood of an attack at your mall or store is extremely low. By not going out, you are letting them win. Terrorists, by definition, use fear to affect a populace. Do not let the incredibly small likelihood of an attack keep you from shopping, worshipping or even ice skating.
I view it the same way I view carrying my concealed carry handgun. If I expected to be in a gunfight every day, I’d either drive a tank or stay home. I don’t expect a gunfight every day, but I understand I can’t control the world and that bad things happen. I am prepared for bad things, but I don’t live in fear.
Preparing for an Attack
Some people may not have a choice of going to these locations. A retail worker certainly can’t take a month off during the busiest season of the year, and it’s the same for truck drivers, security guards, janitors, and so on. In this time of uncertainty, though, I think it’s important to be prepared in case these events do happen.
The first step is being sufficiently armed. It would be great if we could all conceal carry AR-15 SBRs, but that’s not a realistic expectation. If you can’t legally carry, then I don’t advocate breaking the law. If you can carry, then carry, especially if the company you work for says you can. Winter clothes do make concealing a weapon easier.
Not only do winter clothes make carrying a weapon easier, but they make carrying a bigger weapon easier. I’ve taken to carrying my CZ P09 in 9mm, with 19 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber. Some people might not go this far, but carrying something larger than a pocket 380 is something I’d advise. Even the Glock 26 offers 10 rounds of 9mm and is still carry-friendly. Perhaps you will decide to carry an extra magazine or speed loader.
Carrying a gun doesn’t mean you have to engage an attacker. That is a personal decision; some people may feel obliged to engage, others may feel they simply should make sure their family escapes safely. Even if you don’t choose to engage, then carrying a gun gives you the ability to engage when the choice is either engage or die. If you’re backed into a corner, then you are forced to engage.
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Regardless of if you can carry a gun, or don’t carry a gun, there are other things to do. First off, always have a fully charged cell phone. Even if it’s not activated, a cell phone can still dial 911. A standard cell phone allows you to call your family if you’re separated during an attack. A phone with a camera even can be used as a periscope to look around corners without exposing yourself.
The next item I suggest is to carry at least one tourniquet. A CAT tourniquet is the chosen option of the U.S. Military and is both effective and easy to use. These tourniquets are compact and can be carried in the pocket with ease. I can find one for about $30 online, and it’s pretty effective at stopping massive blood loss. I carry a CAT because I know how to use it, and I have a lot of training and experience with one. There are quite a few different styles of tourniquets out there, and it’s worth exploring.
Another two items I suggest: a good pocket knife and a decent little flashlight. These are basic everyday carry items and can be used in hundreds of different applications.
Keep a Good Attitude
That “thing” between your right and left ear is your best weapon. Having the right attitude and mindset are just as valuable as having a good gun — if not more so. Situational awareness is king. If you recognize a developing situation, you can put yourself in a position that gives you a tactical advantage — or you can escape.
When in stores, restaurants or anywhere else, you should place yourself in a position where you can either escape, take cover or engage. Position your back to a wall, and have the ability to observe the entrances and exits. Another tip: Never sit in the middle of a large crowd. I can’t imagine a worse situation than being in the middle of a mall’s food court when these situations erupt. You’d likely be far from cover, stuck in the open and fighting a panicking crowd.
Lastly, keep your head on a swivel. It’s not being paranoid. It’s simply being prepared.
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