One of the most important things for a concealed carry permit holder to learn is to be aware. If you have taken our concealed carry class, you know how much emphasis we place on awareness; if you weren’t sure why we stress this point so much, it is about to become very clear. In our class, we talk about studies that show that in 60% of instances, a criminal will walk away from a target that makes eye contact with them. The other 40% of criminals will continue with their plan; they will not be deterred. This means that being aware of your surroundings has a two-fold benefit. It might deter crime against you in up to 60% of cases, and in the other 40%, it will improve your odds of a successful defense.
First of all, being aware of your surroundings not only helps you to determine if there is a threat to you, but also allows you to develop a plan in case of a threat. When a person walks into a restaurant and doesn’t bother looking to see where the exits are, they are going to be hard pressed to get out of the restaurant when a fire breaks out. Now let’s look at a more dramatic example: if a person walks into a restaurant and is immersed in their phone conversation instead of their surroundings, how likely is it going to be that they will notice smoke coming from the restrooms? You may be thinking, someone else will see it and yell “fire”. While that is possible, do you really want to rely on someone else to find out that you are in danger? The same principle stands in self-defense situations. If you walk into a restaurant and are busy texting your friend, how likely is it that you will notice the person following you into the restroom? Sure, you’ll notice them eventually, right? Probably right around the time they threaten your life, and you are out of ways to avoid the situation entirely, or get to your firearm.
Secondly, most self-defense situations happen within twenty-one feet, and 99% of the time, it is over in just a few seconds. This means that if you were not aware of the situation that was about to unfold, you probably already lost your opportunity to either get away or draw your gun. I will admit that, having been in a life-threatening situation myself, time does seem to slow down, giving you the opportunity to mentally weigh your options. However, actual time does not stop, which means that by the time you are done weighing your options, your time has probably run out, and it is time to act.
If we, the criminal’s target, are not prepared, have not thought ahead, or aren’t paying attention, we are allowing them to have the upper hand. On the other hand, if we are mentally prepared, if we have thought through different possible situations, if we have practiced drawing our firearm, if we know what is going on around us, and are aware of the situation that is unfolding, then we have stripped our attacker of their most powerful weapon: the element of surprise.
Last week in Brazil, several men followed a car into their garage. Had the driver not been paying attention, any number of things could have happened to him and his wife, but because he was aware of his surroundings, he was able to successfully defend himself and his wife. As you watch the video, you will see that the passenger door opens as the first man approaches the car, because the wife is not paying attention. However, I imagine he told her to close the door, as you see it quickly slam shut before the first shot is fired. I hope you take the video seriously and learn from it, so that you are never caught unaware.