This week, a lone lunatic driving an SUV in London decided it was time to mow people over on his way to breaching security at the Parliament Building. On the day of the incident, I was not there. On the day before, I was.
I was walking on the pavement across Westminster Bridge where people were injured and killed. I walked alongside Parliament Square where he turned and picked up speed toward the gates of Parliament. I crossed Abington Street beside St. Margaret’s church on my way to Westminster Abbey. All of this travel one day before someone randomly (or perhaps not so randomly) decided that “today was his last day.”
In the days since, I have imagined myself in the situation. I look into a possible future and ask myself, “What I would have done on the bridge, crossing the street, or beside the gate?” Years of tactical training and tuning my senses to my environment cause me look automatically at the world around me, in a different way from “normal” people. I know that. I heard people’s conversations. I pay attention to the tone and tenor of different voices, though I sometimes can’t understand the language. I watch body language and eye movement. I carry a gun, always.
I say all that, so I can say this; in that situation, there was nothing I could have done to prevent what happened. I could not have done anything on the bridge except dodge the SUV and help the injured and dying. I could not have done anything on the pavement except dodge the SUV and help the injured and dying. I could not have done anything crossing Abington Street except dodge the SUV and help the injured and dying. If I were carrying a gun, there was no action of violence that could have prevented what the special forces and police units that surround Parliament daily, didn’t already do.
Now, understand…I would have moved toward the threat, as I have been trained to do. I would have acted on the violence using violence. Had more people been involved in that attack against the sovereign government of the UK, I would have acted purposefully in stopping and securing (and maybe, killing) those who would randomly kill for their own goals and purposes. I would have brought an ass-kicking with me, to be sure.
When one person, acting alone and without warning, causes chaos, panic, injury, and death, there is nothing much anyone can do to prevent it. The talking heads have been saying that since we started experiencing random violence a decade ago. Are there things our intelligence community can do to help stop these acts? Yes. That is not my area of expertise so I won’t “armchair quarterback” that statement. I will only argue the point that it’s possible.
This was written by someone who was close enough to examine only the tangible bits of experience to have a personal opinion and nothing else. As the days move forward, I may have a different perspective. But today, I can only say that I’m glad I was a day early and I’m sorry there were others who were not so lucky.