By now, readers will have been inundated with news stories about the Manchester, England suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert. While ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, it was no great mental leap to see the bombing as yet another terrorist attack. I’m not going to give quarter to the motivation of the bomber, ultimately, that is irrelevant to this discussion. Instead, let’s look at this most recent attack from a perspective of how to deal with similar future scenarios.
This is a problem for people like us, because it’s NOT a problem we can necessarily fix with a concealed firearm. So what can we do?
First I’m going to suggest that you visit the Active Response Training blog written by Greg Ellifritz. Having recently attended his “Terrorist Bombers” lecture at the last Rangemaster Tactical Conference, I am confident naming him as an expert in these matters. He has written extensively on the subject, and this article is but one example of the phenomenal reference that his blog provides. The short version takeaway is that you probably won’t recognize a suicide bomber, and even if you did, very few people have the skill set to deliver a head shot on demand at the ranges and in the time frames involved. Think you can? Next time you walk into a crowded venue, count out 10 seconds (and that’s being generous). Locate the probable bomber, his handlers, and imagine drawing and firing a headshot, assuming you’re in a venue where you can even carry a gun… yeah, that’s what I thought. If you’re close enough to do anything, you’re close enough to die in the bomb blast. There is nothing good about these situations. As I mentioned in my initial review of Ellifritz’s presentation, the Kobayashi Maru simulator from Star Trek comes to mind.
So, if we consider that we probably can’t be armed at all venues that might be subject to attack, and even if we were, probably couldn’t recognize a suicide bomber in time to ballistically alter their intended course of action, what can one do to prepare?
Many will no doubt parrot the maxim of, “Don’t go to stupid places with stupid people at stupid times.” I’m not sure a concert necessarily qualifies. Do you enjoy going to concerts? I’ve been to my fair share of shows, and I’ll probably go to some others in the future. I’m sure, someday, my children will want to go to a few concerts. The truth is, unless you’re prepared to completely eschew public venues, avoidance is a tactic with only limited viability.
Looking at avoidance from a slightly different angle, note that this suicide bombing took place in a transitional area. Read Robert’s article on dealing with those areas. Think about where the transitional areas are in public venues and try to spend as little time as possible in them. Transit through them, don’t loiter.
Obviously, situational awareness and escape and evasion should always be at the top of the toolbox, but there are other more prescient considerations as well. How many of those concert goers had a flashlight on their person, or a tourniquet or med kit? How many had looked for alternate exits or set up prearranged rally points with their friends and family in case of an emergency? How many had considered what improvised weapons might be carried innocuously?
Conversely, how many had indulged in intoxicants or outright illegal substances and therefore kneecapped their accurate perception of their surroundings? How many have been blissfully traipsing through life with either no concept that true evil exists in the world or looking at the world with a normalcy bias that clouded their perception of reality? No doubt, many young liberal minded people just got a very ugly wake up call that they don’t yet fully understand.
I’m going to keep this commentary short. Live your life. Go places. See things. But do so armed with the knowledge and appropriate tools needed to deal with the reality that we are living in an era of 4th generation warfare where the security afforded by our borders has been made largely irrelevant through decades of negligent idealism.