Following a spate of high-profile mass shootings in the US, many Americans are looking to prepare themselves for a future attack, learning how to defend themselves or at the very least maximize their odds of survival. While foreign military and law enforcement officials have often draw on Israel’s experience with terrorism, some Israeli counter-terror experts say even American civilians could benefit from the Jewish state’s example.
According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, after the recent mass shootings in Las Vegas and Texas, growing numbers of Americans have been signing up for courses preparing them for active shooter scenarios, where they are taught rudimentary self-defense skills.
"The demand for the courses around the country reflects a growing acceptance among many Americans that they may face a shooting in their lifetimes," the Journal wrote.
Even basic preparedness can save lives, one counter-terror expert says, with the ability to remain calm and think clearly during an attack often making the critical difference between life and death.
IDF Colonel (Res) Sharon Gat, the CEO and founder of Caliber 3, a counter-terrorism academy in Israel, told Arutz Sheva that preparedness is the key to emerging from a shooting attack unscathed.
Gat noted the relatively high body counts in mass shooting attacks and ramming attacks in the US and Europe, in comparison to the generally lower body count’s from similar attacks in Israel.
"Preparing before a mass shooting event is crucial for survival," he said. "You have to realize that situations like this can happen. It happens in the real world, in America, in Europe, almost every week. People like to think that it won't happen to them, but it can and they need to be prepared.
"How do you prepare?" continued Gat. "Mentally, you have to tell yourselves that it can happen to you. If you are going in the street or in a crowd, or in Las Vegas like the show where the attack happened, ask yourself what you would do if an attack happened. Simulating an attack before it happens can help you a lot."
"Once the shooting does start, my advice is to take cover," Gat instructed. "Make yourself smaller by lying on the floor and crawl very carefully to cover. You need to remember that you are also not alone and that your kids understand what to do. Just because you know what to do doesn't mean others do. Shout and scream to others to take cover as well. After you take cover, call the police."
"In Israel, people know that an attack can happen and prepare themselves. In Sarona [referring to the deadly Sarona market shooting in June 2016 that left four dead], people immediately evacuated the place and the security [guards], which were 200 meters from there, took out their weapons, ran towards the shooters and did what they had to do. In America, it takes sometimes 30-40 minutes until police get to the attacker. What do you expect? In 40 minutes one [shooter] can kill hundreds".
Pointing to the deadly July 2016 truck attack in France that left 86 dead, Gat said that, "in Israel, he would have run over one person and then gotten a bullet in the head. The people in Israel understand that there is an attack- from the armed civilian to the security guard to the special forces, people understand there is an attack and react."