GHayesby Gila Hayes

We just got back from the NRA Annual Meeting, where we visited with many members–long time Network supporters and new members, too–while we promoted Network membership in a booth in the exhibit hall. It was great to see how many women and children were in attendance, sometimes with the whole family, mother, father and an assortment of kids of all ages all strolling through the rows of booths together.

A remarkable number of the gentlemen walking alone or with another fellow would come up and comment, “I sure wish my wife/daughter/mother would learn to use a gun for personal defense.” I agreed with the gentlemen, then, often as not, suggested, “Just start by encouraging greater awareness of what is around your wife or daughter. If she starts to see where she might fall prey to crime, she may be more open to learning how to defend herself.”

Awareness is something that we talk about a lot, but it is somewhat ephemeral and hard to teach. A few months ago, I was talking with Mike Seeklander of American Warrior Society, and he made a great point about just building the habit of doing a full area scan anytime you walk through a door. It was a great point, because we walk through a lot of doors in every day life, so setting going through a door as a trigger makes for a pretty easy habit. The trigger event is already present in daily life.

Mike said, “We always preach avoidance, but it is very hard to put that into real life action. Anytime you go through a door, it doesn’t matter whether it is that door [points to double doors at the end of the room], your car door, or the door you use to come out of the mall or the door at Wal-Mart, you need to do a swivel. So you need to look to your left and right and look at every person in your environment.

“Now, I know that sounds like common sense, but here’s the reason: when we look at how these attackers select their victims, they look for a couple of different things. They look at how big you are, how strong you are and what you are carrying. One set of attackers looked for everyone who came out of the mall carrying a bag from Apple. Big money, right?

“Across the board, the attackers clearly say that if at any point someone makes eye contact with them, they had a doubt, ‘Hey, I don’t know this person. Why are they making eye contact? Maybe they have some level of awareness and I think they saw me,’ that they would call off the attack,” Seeklander observed.

I will add personally that often ladies say they don’t like to look strangers in the eye. A student once told me that her workplace violence training taught her and all the other sheep running that probation office that meeting a stranger’s eye incites attack. “Oh, come on!” I retorted. “A potential assailant does not want you to recognize what he is doing! I’m just going to meet his eyes and move on.”

When I mentioned that to Seeklander, he commented, “If it seems weird, just say, ‘Hi!’ and the average person who has targeted you, is going to go away. They are not going to attack you. I hate to say it, but they are going to attack somebody else who had their head down, looking at their iPhone.

“Anytime you walk through a door: your car door, your home door, walk in or out of the mall, you look left, look right, make eye contact with anybody in your environment. There is probably a 75% chance that you completely dispel any kind of an attack that someone might be considering. Those are easy things! You just get in the habit of looking and asking, “Who’s that?” Or look at them, just look at them,” Mike exclaimed.

He’s right and I’ve been using his advice about the door habit since having that talk with him. You should try it, too, and teach it to the people you wish could live more safely.

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