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Understanding THREAT Recognition (Situational Awareness)

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Many people believe they can avoid criminal activity and possible conflict by simply avoiding “problem” areas.  While this is true, a person may be more likely to be victimized in certain locations, it is also a fact that people can be assaulted virtually anywhere.  The best way to avoid conflict when you are out and about is to recognize and address the threats before they lead to a dangerous encounter.

How does a criminal decide who to attack?

After a bad guy decides to commit a crime, his next priority is a victim — preferably someone oblivious to the lurking danger and who is likely to be afraid to or lack the skills to fight back when attacked.  Bad guys will often “test” their potential victim by asking for a match, some change, the time or something similar, an action that reveals whether the individual will allow his or her personal space to be violated.

How can a gun owner avoid looking like a target?

Guns do not magically keep criminals away, and since Texas is a concealed carry state the bad guy would not know and should not know you are armed (don’t lose this element of surprise).  A “Command Presence” and remembering your “States of Awareness” is your best deterrent.  The vast majority of criminals are opportunists who strike when presented with a good opportunity.  Remove the opportunity and you dramatically reduce the risk you face.

How does one learn how to effectively observe and detect risk?

While seated on our favorite recliner we are most often in “Condition White”, however, on the street, we must mentally “kick it up a notch” to match the situations we encounter.  Remembering our “States of Awareness” starting with an oblivious, unprepared state … and moving all the way to a condition of being ready to fight without any hesitation and with all the tools your arsenal holds, and always remembering “if you find yourself in a fair fight … your tactics suck”!

Should we live at the highest level of alertness at all times?

We cannot observe effectively if we are stuck at either end of this awareness spectrum.  At the bottom of the scale, we will fall victim to an accident or to a criminal eventually.  However, on the other hand, we cannot go through life or for that matter a single day with our hand on our holstered pistol 24/7.  Our threat response needs to move up and down the scale as both observation and circumstances change and intel dictates.

What intellectual problems must we overcome when attacked?

Most will face three intellectual difficulties: (1) recognizing the threat in time to react; (2) understanding and accepting that severe harm or death is possible; (3) and overcoming reluctance to answer that threat by responding aggressively enough to stop the threat.

How can we overcome these three problems?

We overcome these problems by moving along the sliding threat scale.  The lowest level on the scale allows us to be in an oblivious, daydreaming, preoccupied state (safe at home in your living room).  The next level is that of general alertness — heads up and eyes searching (this is where we live while in public).  Still higher is identification of a specific threat.  The final level is being mentally prepared to fight, and as mentioned earlier to STOP the threat.

What happens when we reach that final level?

When we realize a threat is real, we are waiting on a “mental trigger”, a specific, predetermined action on the bad guy’s part that will result in our immediate, aggressive, defensive respo nse.  By having a “pre-set trigger” in our mind we can move fast enough to deal with the problem and not waste time deciding what to do. If you wait until you need a plan to form one, you are too late!!!

What is that mental trigger?

The mental trigger will differ depending on the circumstances.  It could be, “I’ve told him to stop, if he moves one more step toward me with that tire iron, I’ll shoot.”  Whatever the trigger is, once it is pulled, we must take immediate action against the bad guy.  Your life and the life of your family and friends could depend on your response!

A final thought!   Do criminals really fear gun-carrying citizens?

Yes, in fact they do! Criminals fear the armed citizen more than the police — armed citizens are unpredictable.  They resist attacks, and they shoot back, they are not required to take prisoners, and those that train are often very skilled.  Most bad guys will avoid an attack on a random person they believe might be armed.  The most common behavioral difference between a victim and the survivor is your level are awareness (don’t be a sheeple).

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