While many of us were home in our comfortable beds this weekend, a terrorist rampage killed 49 people and injured another 53 in Orlando, Florida. This was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Twenty minutes into his assault on an Orlando nightclub, Omar Mateen called 911 and pledged his allegiance to ISIS. Wielding an assault rifle and a handgun, Mateen ran amok for three hours before police stormed the building and killed the shooter.
And though Mateen proclaimed his allegiance to ISIS, there is no indication that radical Islamic terrorists trained the 29-year-old condo security guard in any way.
Why is this fact significant?
This event and others — such as the San Bernardino, California, tragedy — clearly demonstrates a “shift” in terrorism. And while these changes have certainly prompted us to switch gears, we cannot claim to have found a solution to the wanton violence that we have experienced and will continue to see and feel.
What I am talking about is a geopolitical shift from the well-organized terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda, to the lone “jihadist.” As my security analysis has noted for several years now, these lone individuals pose a very different threat to both the U.S. and other nations. Though less organized and with fewer resources, these lone jihadists, or “grassroots terrorists,” are more difficult for law enforcement agencies to detect and to track than cells or groups.
People such as Mateen, who was interviewed more than once by FBI agents before the attack, often slip through the cracks. This means that the police cannot always be there when a lone wolf attacks.
In truth, the average attack by an active shooter only lasts for 12.5 minutes, even though the Orlando massacre lasted much longer. And tragically, the police will usually arrive after the attack is over.
So it’s important for people to realize that they will probably need to fend for themselves whenever they face a crazed terrorist.
|The lone terrorist poses a different kind of threat to the U.S. and other nations.|
When I dissect people’s reactions during these assaults by active shooters or terrorists, what I see is that a good majority of them experience the “freeze effect.” They are basically paralyzed by fear.
In the terms of my profession, they could not get off the “X.” To security experts, an imaginary “X” marks the spot where the ambush occurs or where victims step into the sights of a shooter.
During an attack, the chaos and sheer terror cause many people’s brains to shut down, leading them to freeze like scared rabbits, even if they’re standing in a hail of gunfire. Other people end up stuck on the X simply because they can’t sort through the bedlam fast enough to figure out that they’re in mortal danger.
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The Big Question is: “How Do You Break Free of the Freeze Effect So You Can React?”
To avoid the “freeze effect,” you need to cultivate an “orienting behavior.”
Let me explain. By planning your reaction — even if it is only by visualizing it in your mind — you are already setting up behavior chains that can give you options when you find yourself standing on the “X”. So pre-planning is one of the keys to mitigating the risk.
Another critical way to help you get off the “X” faster starts with understanding and training your situational awareness. This is something I preach and truly believe in.
I don’t want you to be paranoid about everything you see or hear. But if you develop heightened situational awareness, that can go a long way toward helping you avoid or survive sudden danger.
For example, if the moment you hear gunfire, you recognize the sounds as gunshots, then you will be prepared to run or hide. And because you practiced good awareness, you know where to find all the exits and all the less-formal escape routes, like windows or service grates. Plus, you have spotted all the places where you can take cover while you make your getaway.
Remember, when we look back at any of these tragic events and think about them in context, there were always clues that could have helped the victims survive. All they had to do was pay attention.
These clues signal you that there is a “change of status” in your environment. They’re hints that something is not right with your world. And if you immediately recognize what’s wrong, you have a better chance of getting away alive.
On the other hand, some folks refuse to believe that bad things can happen to good people. They go through life as if they were protected by an aura of truth, justice and the American way.
This mindset is extremely dangerous. It blocks your brain from seeking and triggering the reactions that could save your life. It dulls your mind on every level — conscious and unconscious — which will render it inert when you need it the most.
The big takeaways here are…
- To understand and practice good situational awareness…
- To recognize that these active shooter and terrorist events can unfold in any public space at any time…
- And to admit you need to be prepared! Preparation removes a good part of the risk from the equation.
Until next time, stay alert, check your six, put your back against the wall and stay safe!
P.S. The death of the American dream is coming. Nothing will ever be the same again for you or for your family. The America we know and love will be no more. The fallout of this historic event will be horrific for the unprepared. It will trigger all-out panic — first in the U.S. bond market … and later in the stock market. It will destroy millions of jobs … sentence most Americans to a “dark age” of depression and poverty … send gold and silver prices careening higher … and push the U.S. government to the brink of collapse. Click here to learn how Mike Larson can help you protect yourself and your family in the upcoming crisis!