Make the decision to not be a victim. None of the students at Umpqua Community College got up Thursday morning and decided to be a victim. Unfortunately, it is our default condition. Deciding to not be a victim is a process, and its one you must make every time you go out the door, every time you step out of the shower, every time you get out of bed.
The Air Force has an acronym, the OODA loop. Orient, Observe, Decide, Act, repeat. Orient, know where you are at any given moment. Observe, be intentionally aware of your surroundings, every person, every object. If it is familiar territory, look for the unfamiliar. The new face, the package left unguarded, the vehicle that does not belong. Decide whether to continue your chosen path, or detour based on what you see. Make a plan, but make it fast. Act, then orient again.
When I am driving, I rarely have the radio on. I know the news times for my stations, and I switch it on to catch up on events, or if there are signs of a pending event such as a storm. Otherwise, it is a distraction I do not want. I also keep my window open especially in town. Problems usually announce themselves in a big way and with plenty of fanfare.
The second step is be prepared. Do you own a gun? Do you know how to use it? Really use it? If you were blind folded, could you disassemble it, reassemble it, load it and orient it toward a noise? Do this, pick a target. With the gun unloaded, repeat, UNLOADED, select a target such as a tree, or picture if inside. Close your eyes, draw the gun and point it toward the target. Open your eyes and see how close your aim is. Work on this drill. It will matter. How much range time do you spend? You should shoot at least once a month.
Do you have a concealed carry permit? A lot of people open carry. I do NOT recommend it unless it is popular where you are. All open carry does is advertise. It makes you the number one target of a perp with a plan.
Many businesses do not allow firearms. Avoid them if you can. Umpqua
College was not a gun free zone by law, it was a defacto one in large
part because most students are 18-20 years old and cannot own a hand gun
let alone carry it. If you have a kid in college, make sure they are
prepared. There are many ranges available, take your kid to one when you go visit them. Here at Kansas State in Manhattan, we do not have a range in town, but there are two close by. Ogden's Best seven miles to the west, and Godfrey's in Junction City.
What about a knife? I'm not into knife fighting, but they are a useful tool in an emergency situation. Keep it sharp and keep it handy.
The next step is maintain situational awareness. Your car has a review mirror, use it, and when you exit the vehicle, put your head on a swivel. look around you constantly, become a tourist and take it in, take it ALL in. trouble has a habit of sneaking up on us, so check your six on a regular basis.
When you enter a building, know where the alternate exits are. Part of your plan needs to be a hasty exit. plan a route back to your vehicle, but also have a second route in mind. have an alternate means of departure planned in case your vehicle is compromised. Shrapnel from a splodydope might wipe out your vehicle. It hasn't happened much here yet. YET. Barry is importing them by the plane load and scattering them to the four winds.
A small first aid kit can make a huge difference. It need not be complicated, a couple of bandaids, some alcohol wipes and a safety pin can go a long way in many situations.
The Army acronym is SURVIVAL. Size up the situation. Undue haste makes waste. Remember where you are. Vanquish fear and panic. Improvise! Value life. Act like the natives. Live by your wits. It is what you use when you are out of your element. Something has just caused you to deviate from your plans. It could be a fire, and accident, or any interruption that life throws at us at mach 2.
The decision to not become a victim is one you must make, and you must make it regularly. You could still be shot dead by a Malvo type sneak attack, but the odds diminish when you maintain situational awareness. The same is true driving down the road. Its not the one you see that will hit you, its the one you didn't see in time.