Many of us reading this carry firearms on a daily basis, but how many are maintaining situational awareness in their daily routine? This question is aimed primarily towards those of us who have chosen to accept the responsibility of being armed, but it also applies to situations where you’re not armed (either by choice or due to local laws & other prohibitions).
Last week in Nairobi, we saw graphic proof of what a determined group of attackers is capable of. Depending on varying news reports, claims are that three of the al-Shabab terrorists were recruited from the United States and possibly another three (or more) were Europeans (take that with a grain of salt until it is confirmed one way or the other).
Take the Westgate Mall scenario out of Nairobi and shift it to your local shopping mall in Anywhere, USA. Is this something that we are ready for if it happens?
2012 – Clackamas Town Center (Clackamas, OR): two people killed, one wounded.
2007 – Westroads Mall (Omaha, NE): eight people killed, four wounded.
2007 – Trolley Square Mall (Salt Lake City, UT): five people killed, four wounded.
2005 – Tacoma Mall (Tacoma, WA): six people wounded.
2005 – Hudson Valley Mall (Kingston, NY): two people wounded.
These examples only involved one shooter. Ramp things up to a scenario involving multiple attackers who are dedicated to getting their jihad on and you can imagine how quickly things can turn ugly, much as it did in Nairobi. The news reports still haven’t pinned down an exact number of killed and wounded, but the numbers I’ve seen say 60-70 or more killed and in excess of 200 wounded.
Let that sink in a minute….. And then imagine it happening at your local shopping mall in Anywhere, USA.
So what am I driving at with this? What does a terrorist attack in Kenya have to do with firearms owners in America?
It’s a known fact that various Islamic terrorist groups have been actively recruiting from Muslim communities across America. According to the Rand Corporation, “America’s homegrown jihadist terrorists have not shown great determination or very much competence,” but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it IS happening. We need to be worried about these homegrown terrorists bringing their jihad back to our doorstep. It’s not a matter of “if” it happens, but “when” it happens. There are lessons to be learned from Beslan in 2004, Mumbai in 2008, and now Nairobi this year.
Which steers us back to my original question: How many of us are maintaining situational awareness in their daily routine?
You’re open carrying at your local Starbucks, and an armed robbery takes place.
What do you do?
You’ve taken your family to do some early holiday shopping at the local mall, when you hear heavy gunfire coming from several directions. You have your CCW firearm and two reloads on you.
What do you do?
You’re sitting in class at a community college, and the sound of gunshots comes from a hallway followed by screaming. The college campus is a “Gun Free Zone” and you are unarmed.
What do you do?
In instances involving a single shooter, either the police arrive on scene to contain the damage and put the shooter down, or as has happened on several occasions, the shooter turns their gun on themselves. So let’s be realistic – nobody is expecting the Average Joe with a CCW to take on a group of dedicated attackers who have planned out a complex attack on a soft target located in an urban area.
As I’ve previously said (and I’ll probably say again in the future): Think It Through. I’m not talking about doing a John McClain from Die Hard and taking the bad guys on. Simple things like knowing where your points of egress are located, as well as potential routes an attacker or attackers could take towards you become critical. Are you prepared to shepherd your family out of danger? What about other people around you? Being able to establish communications with 911 and provide information to first responders can also be an important factor which impacts what happens later.
Nearly everywhere you look in America there is a potential soft target where a group of determined attackers can do serious damage in a limited amount of time. So do you have your head on straight when you are carrying in public, are you maintaining solid situational awareness of your surroundings?
We may rank #1 in the world for per capita firearms ownership, but the number of firearms owners who carry in public is quite low in comparison to this. If it comes down to it, are you prepared to go head-to-head with an armed attacker or multiple attackers? Are you going to be an asset to those around you, or are you going to be “lost in the sauce” when the stress levels peak in an unknown situation?
What I am saying is this: Think It Through. Everywhere you go, everything you do. Pay attention, keep your head up, and think about your options when you act.