Back on the 4th I asked someone, if they were intent on spending the holiday among the throng, to do me a personal favor and keep their head on a swivel. They seemed surprised at the request and asked if there was a particular reason they should. As the assassination of five police officers in Dallas has shown, I hope none of my friends are any longer in doubt of why I ask them to be aware of their surroundings as they walk into a crowded environment – like a protest or fireworks display or shopping mall.
Our police officers are incredibly dedicated. They’re over worked, under paid, and utterly under respected by their elected leadership and so often by the very citizens they serve. If they can be drawn into an ambush like this you’d damned well better believe the average civilian can too. So yeah, if you ever wonder why I do my level best to avoid large groups of people and why I encourage those I love to do the same, sadly now you know. None of us can have perfect situational awareness, but we owe it to ourselves when we’re part of the crowd to be as aware as possible – of entrances, exits, avenues of advance and retreat, locations for cover or concealment, and of what’s occupying the high ground. Your life – and the life of those to your left and right – could very well depend on it.
Terrorism doesn’t come in just Muslim or Christian flavors. It also comes in the form of political extremists who blow up federal buildings with truck bombs or who shoot up peaceful protests with rifles. Terrorism has been with us far longer than most want to believe – ask an Englishman about “the troubles” or do a little research into the events that triggered the First World War. We can’t eradicate the impulse in some sick bastards to inflict grave harm on society, but we should damned well prepare ourselves to take action when those inevitable bad days come.