The world has always been dangerous, and most people have always ignored the danger rather than face reality and prepare for it. Nothing has changed. For those who pay attention and accept the realities of the world for what they, unfortunately, are, it is clear that the violent threats in contemporary America have changed. Typical street crime has spiked in the past several years for a variety of reasons, foremost of which is the soft-on-crime approach of political leaders in urban environments. However, beyond this, we are facing an increased frequency of criminal behavior that was uncommon in years past. This should lead the prepared citizen to evaluate their family defense plan.
When in public with family, especially if small children are involved, you are much more vulnerable to violence than if by yourself as an able-bodied adult. The primary reason for this is that your mobility is limited when you have children in tow. If you are a parent, you realize that going anywhere quickly is all but impossible. Children slow you down and distract you, so your situational awareness is compromised. This is hardly a way to infer that you should not have children; rather, when we are in public with them, we must be switched on and have a defensive plan that takes this vulnerability into account.
Different Threats Demand a Plan
There are two categories of criminality that raise great concern for anyone who is paying attention, especially if you have a family: the increase in mob violence and the increase in active killer attacks. Both of these threats can manifest instantly when in crowded public places. Flash mobs that riot, loot stores, and assault people have become increasingly common in the past several years. Likewise, active killer attacks, often in the form of a rampaging active shooter but sometimes in the form of knife, explosive, or vehicle attack, have also become more common. While this still remains a rare event, having a plan for how to deal with it is important.
Discussing the Matter
Partners and older children should be included in the plan, and a discussion with them is needed. Explain to these family members that, while there is no need to be afraid of everything, there should be a plan in place, just in case. Teach family members to exercise situational awareness, noticing who is around them and what those people are doing, and noticing where exits are. It is sound to explain that, should any member of the family pick up on danger, when the word is given, perhaps a secret family word to use for such an emergency, the family exits the environment.
If something bad happens when in a public place, teach partners and older children what they should do. If you are the primary defender of the family, the plan should be that your partner immediately evacuates the premises with the children. An older child can also be tasked with this job; if things go bad, he or she can usher the younger ones out.
Established Linkup Point
In the event that something happens while in a crowded, public place, it is important to discuss having a linkup point beforehand. For example, if at a crowded county fair or other such outdoor event, it is wise to agree that, should anyone get separated (especially pertaining to younger children), then go to X location and await the family there. In the event of an emergency, such as a violent act in the vicinity, the linkup point should be outside of the premises. Have this discussion before entering said event.
It is the most probable option to agree that all family members meet back at the vehicle in the parking lot should anyone get separated. The potential issue here, however, is that terrorists abroad have intentionally committed attacks specifically to force the crowd into the parking lot, only to detonate explosives there. If that sounds paranoid, consider that the Columbine High School killers had explosives waiting in a vehicle in the school parking lot to detonate on first responders, but the explosives failed. This is a tactic that has been used often in other nations, and it is something we may see unfold here as well in our time of heightened threat. Instead of planning to link up at the car, plan to meet at a designated location further away from the venue and have this conversation beforehand.
Stay Armed Plus
It should go without saying; if you can legally carry in your vicinity, then you should be doing so all the time. Simply having your handgun on you may be the single greatest game-changer in the face of mass violence. Consider also whether your partner has some training, even if only basic safety handling training, yet does not carry a gun themselves. Well, if this is the case, as it is for the majority of concealed carriers (it is less usual for both halves of the couple to carry), consider carrying a backup gun when in crowded locations. Should something happen, it may prove invaluable to be able to hand a second pistol to your significant other or even an older and trained child. A simple and comparatively safe-to-handle firearm, like a snub revolver, makes a great backup gun for this purpose. And finally, consider carrying medical gear, as the ability to stop severe bleeding is a lifesaving skill if you have the lifesaving gear with you.
We live in scary times, and if you have a family, you must have a family plan, not just an individual plan.