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Being Aware May Save Your Life

Advice for the Shooter

It was probably a year or more ago when I was told of an encounter that a lady, let's call her Jane,  had with a potential car jacker, or worse, in the parking lot of the major shopping center in Southern Illinois.

This was not late at night but rather in the middle of the day, with shoppers all around, in the parking area very close to the main entrance to the shopping center.

Jane had been doing some last minute shopping for a few items and was in a hurry to get home. She had a shopping bag in her hands and was focused on getting her keys out of her purse and being on her way. With the keys in her right hand, the bag in her left and her thoughts on opening the door, she heard, “Open the door and get in the car.”, from a male voice behind her.

Jane, thinking very quickly, dropped the shopping bag, threw the keys out and away from the car, screamed and ran back toward the entrance of the shopping center. The attacker, stunned for a moment, stood still then ran out through a section of parked cars and eventually disappeared, according to witnesses of the event.

He was never caught but neither was Jane. Jane survived a potentially life-threatening encounter because she refused to be a victim, thought quickly and acted quickly. Victims who are forced into automobiles and abducted do not fare well as a rule.

Let's go back and take a look at the situation from the beginning. Jane was in a hurry and was distracted by the fact that she needed to get back home for lunch. She was focused on her shopping bag and getting her keys out of her purse.

It was the middle of the day with other shoppers around, she was parked close to the entrance of the shopping center and she felt safe. Her guard was down and she was not aware that an attacker was following her.

It's important that each of us consider our surroundings every day. We certainly don't want to become paranoid but we must face the reality that we live in a sometimes dangerous and unpredictable world, no matter what part of the country we're in.

Many thousands of us all over the U.S. now legally carry firearms for protection of ourselves and our loved ones. That's a good thing and just the idea that a person might be armed has probably deterred many crimes.

We who carry those arms also realize and understand the possible  consequences of using them, even to protect our lives or those of others.

We've all read the “...12 to try us rather than 6 to carry us...” but when we read the horror stories of law abiding folks who've used guns to protect themselves, the sometimes criminal and it seems inevitable civil charges placed against them, even when they prevail, it seems they lose.

So, what can we do to make ourselves more aware of our surroundings? How can we help to prevent the possibility of having to defend ourselves with deadly force?

Slow down. Even if you're in a hurry to get home or to an appointment. An attacker is looking for a distracted, harried and hurried victim. Don't be that person.

While you're shopping, pause occasionally and take a moment to look around at where you are and who is there with you.

Look into the faces of those around you, not in a challenging manner but just so they know you've seen them. An attacker is looking for an unaware victim.

Be ready to enter your vehicle when you exit a building. Have your keys out at the ready and in the proper hand.

Look around your vehicle, look behind and to your left and right. Don't commit to entering if there is a suspicious person around. Keep walking or turn around and go back into the building.

Do not be afraid to throw your keys away or to run and yell or scream. Your attacker can not take you away in a vehicle if he does not have the keys, screaming or yelling  always gets attention and sometimes just running away, even a short distance will cause the attacker to panic.

I'd like to be very clear about the advice I've given. While in my example, it was a woman who was attacked, it can just as easily be a man, teen or child. We must all be aware of our surroundings and it's up to each of us to teach others.

Another friend of mine recently said that one of the more difficult realizations of growing older was that many of us still think we're capable of doing the things we could when we were younger. It's very important for older folks to remember to be aware of their surroundings. Predators are no respecters of age.

We should do all that we can to remain aware of our surroundings at all times. Even when we're in a hurry, we should take time to see who is with us and around us. Look folks in the face, not in a challenging manner but just to let them know you've seen them. Pause before leaving a building or before entering your car and look around. Don't be afraid to change your mind and go back into a building if you feel threatened and don't be afraid to yell, scream or run.

All the advice also applies to other situations, not just entering your car after shopping. Think about your surroundings when you enter a building, an elevator or even when you're about ready to enter your home.

Being aware may just save your life.

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