Briefing Room: Terrorist Attacks: Are You Prepared?

As this is written, just a few days have passed since the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris. Predictably, Internet sites and my newsfeed on Facebook filled up with comments—some giving sound advice, others amounting to mere chest thumping. Two recurring themes were that France’s restrictive gun laws contributed to the slaughter, and the terrorists would have been stopped quickly in the United States.

Don’t kid yourself. It can, and very possibly will, happen here and result in the same kind of carnage. No one goes to a concert expecting a terrorist attack.

Several of the terrorists had on murder vests (more descriptive than “suicide vests”) and were throwing grenades into the crowd. Even if you are armed, the likelihood of getting off an aimed shot—while terrified people scramble to get out of harm’s way—is doubtful.

If you have a firearm, by all means carry it, but simply possessing a gun is not enough. Not knowing how to fight with the gun is akin to competing in NASCAR with a Prius.

Get training from a vetted, qualified instructor—and don’t stop with an introductory course. When practicing on your own, use the gear and wear the clothing you use and wear every day. Get out of your comfort zone and shoot from awkward positions and around cover and concealment with your weak hand. In short, try to prepare for the kind of fight you may get—not the kind you want or envision on a safe square range.

There is a very real chance you may be injured. Do you carry an individual first aid kit with a tourniquet? You should.

Another aspect often overlooked is situational awareness. If not asleep, you should always be in Condition Yellow. Avoid large crowds, especially where alcohol is served. Look for possible indicators, such as someone wearing a heavy coat—it may conceal a long gun or even a murder vest.

Your first responsibility is to take care of your loved ones and yourself. Internet heroics aside, if the hairs on the back of your neck tell you something or someone seems out of place, listen to that sixth sense and, to be blunt, unass the area as quickly as you can. The best way to survive an attack is to not be there when it happens.

Last but certainly not least is mindset. Telling yourself you carry a gun to protect your family is fine, but to help cultivate the proper mindset, tell yourself every morning that today might be the day you have to shoot and possibly kill someone.

Until next time, stay low and watch your back.

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