“Si vis pacem, para bellum.” — Vegetius
As the world recoils in horror from the atrocities carried out on the streets of Paris Friday night, we’re beginning to realize that this is a calamity we’ve seen before: The attacks on the theater, nightclub, soccer stadium, and shopping mall are almost exact copies of earlier attacks in Mumbai and Nairobi, and we’ve seen smaller versions of these kind of attacks on American soil at Fort Hood and in Garland, TX; Ottawa, Canada; and during the Boston Marathon. There is no such thing as “rules of engagement” for radical Islamic militants: In this global war on terror, we are all behind enemy lines. We have met the enemy, and they are among us.
There are two possible responses to the dispersed threat of Islamic terrorism: Increased surveillance and security in the hopes that you’ll catch terrorists in the same net you use to corral regular citizens, or an empowered, aware citizenry that can stop an attack dead in its tracks. I prefer the second option myself, not only because it works, but it errs on the side of freedom, and that’s always a good thing.
What can we do then to not be another statistic in the war on radical Islam? If there are no front lines in this war, we are, by definition, part of the battlefield. Therefore, we must prepare to fight. Some suggestions to help you and your loved ones live to fight another day:
- Practice situational awareness. This is the big one. It is the foundation of self-defense, because you cannot defend against an attack you don’t see coming. Situational awareness is hard to define, but think of it as applying all the skills of defensive driving when you’re not behind the wheel of a car. Pay attention to your surroundings. Where are the alternate exits? Does anything in your vicinity feel out of place? Why is it out of place? What is your plan for dealing with what might happen if what’s out of place starts to affect you?
- If you can carry a gun, carry your gun. Having a plan and the means to defend yourself is far superior to just having a plan or just having a gun by itself. Chances are you are not going to be the hero of the hour and stop the threat, but a sidearm allows you to defend your life if you need to, and that is essential.
- If you have a gun, get training. If the unthinkable occurs, you are not going to naturally rise to the occasion, but rather, you will fall to your lowest level of instinctual mastery. Get training that emphasizes fast, accurate fire under stressful conditions, and get training that has real-world implications. There are plenty of so-called anti-terrorist firearms training classes out there that will have you rolling around in the mud with an AR-15 in your hands, but your job isn’t to hunt ISIS in Syria, your job is to keep your loved ones from harm with the tools you have nearby.
- If something happens and you can get out, get out, and get the people under your care to safety. If they’re safe, the decision to take further action is up to you and the circumstances you’re in. Proceed accordingly.
- Preparedness requires much more than a gun. For those near, but not in a terrorist attack, it is more akin to a natural disaster than a mugging or home invasion. If you’re unfortunate enough to be near an attack, you are more likely be dealing with the consequences of the attack than stopping the attack itself. In addition, a sidearm is pretty much useless in a bomb attack such as Boston, but a trauma kit is crucial for dealing with the effects of a bombing or shooting attack. Having Quikclot and a tourniquet, along with the knowledge how to use them properly, will probably save more lives than a Glock.
The first person on the scene of a street crime or terrorist attack is always the intended victim. The choice is yours: Will you be a victim, or will you be your own first responder?