When I heard the news last week of the terrorist attacks in France over the satire cartoon newspaper Charlie Hebdo, it made me think back to the attacks in Aurora Colorado during the premiere weekend of The Dark Knight Rises. I’m sure most of us have the same feeling. If an armed citizen would have been on the premises, perhaps these shootings could have been avoided. I feel the same way every time I see another school shooting, or mall shooting.
In France, firearms aren’t exactly illegal, but carrying a handgun is something even most of the police simply don’t practice. Perhaps that thought will be revisited in the upcoming months. I’m sure most of us have seen the video of a policeman coming into contact with the terrorists, only to end up on the ground, defenseless and ultimately shot several times at point blank range with an AK-47.
So what can we as armed citizens do to ensure that on the very unlikely chance we are part of an active shooter scenario, we are equipped to handle it? The most obvious answer of course is to carry a firearm and carry it daily. That is a very logical answer, but it’s only a small part of the equation. Should we simply arm every able bodied US Citizen at age 21 and assume that terrorist attacks or active shooter situations simply won’t happen? I certainly don’t think so, but I think that’s exactly what France assumed would happen simply by banning military style weapons.
Simply arming yourself won’t prevent anything, but arming yourself properly and then training properly will give you the advantage over nearly anyone else with exception to law enforcement and trained military personnel. Properly arming yourself means carrying a firearm you’re comfortable carrying all day, a firearm you’re proficient with and carrying the correct type of ammunition for the task at hand. This will almost certainly mean hollow point ammunition unless you carry in backpacking country where 4-legged creatures could be your attacker. You may also want to consider carrying extra magazines, a knife and perhaps a good tactical flashlight.
Equipment alone will not stop a threat. Training with your equipment until you’re sure you can hit a target, and training for situations that require accuracy under duress, with quick follow up shots and reloads will only help to ensure you are prepared for such an encounter. I know when I go to the range or do any shooting at all I’m more concerned with how tight I can get a 5 shot group while concentrating on things like trigger control and breathing. I need to dedicate more time to training under duress and quick follow-up shots rather than only focussing on accuracy alone and I suspect there are many others who need to focus on this type of training as well.
Perhaps there’s a lesson learned from all of these tragedies and it seems very hard to connect the dots between innocent people losing their lives over cartoons and action hero movies, but if we can take one thing away from tragedies such as these, I suppose it’s that preparedness never sleeps. It never waits until you’re ready for a situation. It’s our responsibility to be vigilant in our training and to always be prepared for the worst case scenario.