By Bill Tallen, VP Tactical Operations, Pulse O2DA Firearms Training, Inc.
Last week we established our baseline: that in the emerging domestic threat environment, the only path that offers security to individuals, businesses, schools, churches, and communities is the path of self-reliance, and its corollary, decentralized response. The law enforcement and intelligence communities deter, detect, and disrupt the plans and intent of various bad actors, but police will seldom arrive rapidly enough to save lives and limit damage in the critical first moments of any sort of violent incident.
The foundation of security, therefore, is self-reliance. It starts with the vigilance and armed readiness of the individual citizen, whether in his home or in a public setting. That is challenge enough to occupy many of us, but we must press on farther now, because the downfall of many schemes of security and defense at any level is a failure to consider the larger context.
There are two parts to this larger picture. One, rather evidently, is your own perspective: are you concerned only with protecting yourself, your family, and your property? Or are you thinking of how to improve the security of your children’s school, your house of worship, your workplace, and your community? If you are not thinking on this larger scale, it may be time to start. As John Donne wrote in 1624, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. . .” There are present and emerging threats that may materialize in your church, your club or theater, your school, which you could not face successfully on your own, regardless of your skills, equipment, and readiness. There are also, for most of us, several expanding circles of family, friends, associates, and a broader community of which we are a part. Would you stand behind your fence and watch your town burn? Would you be the first to run for the exit when a shooter begins his deadly dance in your church or your business?
Identifying the place and the people you seek to protect – characterizing your “target” or “target set” – allows you to narrow your consideration of the otherwise overwhelming array of potential threats.
Know Your Enemy
The next vital exercise is to consider the threats you might face. If you do not narrow that spectrum, you will squander your time, energy and resources attempting to prepare for threats that are either vanishingly unlikely, or of minor consequence, or both. It is a truism that “He who defends everything, defends nothing.”
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. We are not interested in identifying threats on a national level, except as they provide a warning of what to expect in our neck of the woods. For our threat assessment to be useful and actionable, it has to be current, well-researched, and specific to our situation and locale.
Start with a top-down look at your own environment. In your neighborhood, community, town, or region (draw the boundary as you see fit), what threats are either already active or likely to emerge in the near term, based upon actual events, trends, demographics, and conditions? We developed a threat spectrum at Pulse to help us visualize types of threats and their targets. Types of threats include:
- Criminal acts. These are simple criminal acts committed by individuals for personal gain or vengeance against life and property. Murder, assault and theft are the primary instruments of mayhem.
- Organized crime. Gang or group-directed violence for economic enrichment and territorial defense. Examples include street gangs, drug cartels, motorcycle clubs, and crime syndicates.
- Cause-driven intimidation. Special interest groups adopting increasingly aggressive tactics in order to threaten or extort individuals, groups or business to support their cause.
- Mob violence. Typically a random or spontaneous violent reaction to an event that energizes a specific group to commit violent acts against life and property.
- Terrorist attacks. Organized, group, cause-driven violence designed to eliminate, disrupt or disable enemies of the cause, and to terrorize and intimidate the larger target population. Provoking government over-reaction to alienate the populace is a common goal of terrorists; forcing changes in foreign policy and strategy is another.
- Extremist attacks. Extremists are lone individuals holding extreme or fanatical political or religious views who resort to violence in order to eliminate offending groups or threats.
Having broadly identified the potential threats relevant to your situation, you must now characterize each threat in greater detail reflecting local and evolving circumstances. For instance, “Organized Crime” in the Northeast corridor certainly includes traditional crime syndicates; but along the highways of the American Southwest, it speaks more of drug cartels and trafficking organizations. These are vastly different potential threats in terms of capability, intention, and internal discipline.
You must assess each threat for its probability of occurring, and for the severity of the consequences if it does occur. Finally, you must map them all on a Graded Threat Matrix that allows you to begin to prioritize your efforts.
If you do not perform this threat assessment with some degree of rigor, you are likely to fixate on the most recent or most alarming event or trend, until that is replaced by something else in the never-ending calamity-driven news cycle. That kind of fixation can be very counter-productive.
When attacks occur, the likelihood of an effective centralized response – of police intervening in the first critical seconds or minutes – is very low. The presence of well-armed, well-trained, self-disciplined citizens drastically increase the odds that attackers will be defeated, or at least delayed and/or disrupted, before law enforcement personnel can intervene, resulting in fewer deaths and injuries.
Enough of mourning, revulsion, and horror; let’s confront these predators, and win. Another of those “big picture” perspectives is this: when violent offenders (from anywhere on our threat spectrum) experience defeat after defeat, others of their type will be increasingly discouraged, lose confidence, and be deterred. Our mere presence – the promise of quick response and a stalwart defense by citizens who cannot even be identified until the moment they engage – will prevent many tragedies from ever occurring.
The proof of this concept is that in jurisdictions and specific locations where concealed carry by citizens is legal, violent crime rates are low, mass shootings seldom if ever occur, and – thus far – terrorists do not stage Paris or Mumbai-style attacks. We should be expanding these areas by opening more and more of them to legally armed citizens – repealing the tragically ineffective “gun free zones” – certainly not creating more restrictions on where and how we may go armed.
The next step is the formation of networks of armed citizens, self-organizing to protect specific locales or larger communities. This is not a call to arms for self-styled militias; and it does not imply mistrust or opposition to authority. It is merely the logical extension of self-reliance on the part of legally armed, security conscious individuals. When the threat is real, you’ll want your six covered, and someone watching while you sleep.
Future installments will explore this continuum between armed self-reliance and legally operating private defense networks in greater detail.
Please welcome the team at Pulse O2DA Firearms Training to the Daily Caller. This series will appear every Saturday. Over the next 10 weeks we will cover: