What can we as armed citizens learn from the Charlie Hebdo Magazine attack?

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The recent attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has brought organized terrorism back into our consciousness. What can we, as legally armed citizens, learn from this tragedy?

Of all the things I’ve learned in the training world, the value of team tactics ranks up there with the scariest. Not in terms of being scared while attempting a room or house clearing (though those things are unnerving), but rather the realization of what two or three very well trained, organized, and reasonably armed people can do to a city.

I studied with a superb teacher who fought a dirty hit-and-run war with Muslim invaders in his own country, and his lessons left me with an appreciation for the havoc that even a tiny group of motivated people could wreak. In this case, two people shut down a city partly because the populous couldn’t fathom the level of violence that’s possible from a fanatic. That, along with some good (and no doubt pre-planned) tactics is what enabled them to succeed.

I’m not going to bother with a preliminary analysis, because Greg Ellifritz at Active Response Training has already done a superb job. Greg’s analysis is spot-on, and I urge you to go read it.

Whether or not you feel that attacks of this type are possible on American soil, the first three lessons Greg relates will apply to workplace violence and school attacks as well. Any time you’re in a situation where someone has made entry into what is normally a “secure” or “safe” area, the dynamics you saw place in France will be possible.

Some thought beforehand will go a long way to helping you stay safe in these instances. If you work in a building where codes are required to get in, have you given any thought to what you’d do if forced to allow entry? How about an attempt to forcibly take your key card as you approach the door?

Greg has some great ideas about evacuation routes, and I’d like to add another: in addition to what he recommends, remember that most stores in most malls have a back door which leads to either a loading dock or a secured freight corridor which opens onto a typically quiet alleyway or back parking entrance. This can be a very fast, relatively safe, and discreet way to exit. Make sure any family members who will be off by themselves understand this too, and plan to meet there if something happens. (I’ve been known to drive around the back side of malls just to get an idea of where the loading facilities are and what they back up to.) Look for “Employees Only” signs at the back of the store, and ignore them as you move quickly through!

Remember that the police can’t be everywhere and that you are your own “first responder”. Think ahead, consider options, make on-the-fly plans anytime you find yourself in a new or unfamiliar place. You may not be able to prevent these attacks, but you can manage your response to make your survival more likely.

-=[ Grant Cunningham ]=-

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About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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