The proliferation of cameras, social media, and a 24-hour news cycle has meant certain crimes get quickly elevated in the public consciousness. Over the last seven years (hmmm, wonder what changed?) there have been several high-profile crimes involving both police officers and armed civilians that have caused various degrees of civil unrest. This post from PJ Media discusses the “Ferguson Effect” that has affected police departments across the country.

…having the police there is only half of the solution to the rise in murders. Cops have to be there, and they have to be willing to get out of their cars and question people acting suspiciously. Police officers have always been willing to risk a shootout in the cause of defending the defenseless, but they are wary of becoming the next cop to star in some political prosecution.

What this means for civilians is that relying on the police to be there when you need them is wishful thinking. That means people need to be ready to be their own first responder and not expect fast response times from law enforcement. The bad news is that this will place a greater burden on citizens and require people to step-up their preparations. The good news is this could provide a catalyst to engage neighbors and like-minded people for mutual assistance. One thing is for sure though; policing is in a state of flux right now in America…plan accordingly.

Some smart phones are coming with some extra, hidden functions already built in. Not only will you get a high-resolution screen, multi-megapixel camera, and all the latest software…you could also have malware lurking inside the phone’s hardware. According to SC Magazine, some new phones from China can be compromised remotely by thieves. Read the whole article, but here is a key paragraph that should cause concern:

Among the spyware apps that G Data discovered being used for nefarious purposes out of the box was one pretending to be the Google Drive app but actually identified by researchers as Android.Monitor.Gsyn.B which contains no functionality other than the ability to monitor and steal a wide range of data without the user knowing. It can, they say, listen in to telephone conversations, copy contacts, ask for location data, record audio with the microphone, disable AV software and read the device browser history. All highly useful resources for a would-be data thief.

Pre-installed malware on smart phones is yet another front in the fight between cyber thieves and innocent users. Even if you do everything right (i.e., software updates) and are careful how you use your phone, it may be compromised from the outset. The only advice I have on this is to work with your mobile phone provider to ensure that any known hardware vulnerabilities are addressed so you don’t get compromised.

A lot of Americans are concerned that our nation’s porous southern border with Mexico represents security major security risk. It could serve as a conduit for Islamic radicals to infiltrate the US and carry out attacks. What is less known and rarely talked about is the situation on the northern border with Canada.

Now many Americans will scoff at the idea that ISIS or other Islamist groups have a Canadian launchpad for its operations. John Schindler recently wrote a piece for the Observer where he discusses this subject in depth. Read the whole post, but keep this particular sentence in mind:

Thanks to large-scale immigration, a permissive environment that emphasizes multiculturalism over assimilation and overwhelmed security agencies, Canada now possesses a domestic radicalism threat that Americans need to be talking about.

From a preparedness perspective, it is important to remember that threats can emerge from unexpected directions. Canada is a peaceful and safe country for the most part, but it has a growing community of radical Islamists who will attempt to carry out terrorist attacks in the USA. Just like crossing the street, it is important to look both ways to see if there is a threat…

A few weeks ago, I read a fascinating post about how active shooter scenarios would play out if some of the participants were CCW permit holders. It is worth your time to read and watch the accompanying video segments. I won’t reveal any spoilers but they key takeaway is this:

Weapons trainer Travis Bond said the best way to overcome the unknown is to prepare for it. “By going through the training and experiencing different things — and specifically looking for opportunities to engage, and knowing when not to engage — is as important as anything,”

This has applications beyond the (unlikely) event of various active shooter scenarios at work. Think about how you can gain experience at various activities in a safe, controlled setting so that you can learn without exposing yourself to risk. This will equip you with knowledge that you can apply in emergency situations.

HT to Kevin at Misfires and Light Strikes.

 

A few weeks ago, there was a massive blackout that affected hundreds of thousands of citizens in Ukraine. It wasn’t just any blackout either, it was an intentional blackout caused by hackers that targeted electrical power transmission systems. As Fast Company writes:

The attack is significant because it’s the first known time malware has been used to disrupt critical physical civilian services. Until this time most cyber attacks that have directly affected the public have remained in the realm of digital-–think the Target credit card hack or the Ashley Madison breach.

This blackout took place in the middle of winter and was intended to cause maximum harm. Remember that Russia and Ukraine are locked in a smoldering conflict over territory, so this event was another front in this particular war.

The takeaway from all this is that nation-states, hacktavists, terrorists, and criminal syndicates will target key infrastructures like electrical power grids. This means the power will not always be on when you need it, perhaps for long periods during inconvenient times of the year. Plan accordingly.

So you purchased a new firearm in 2015, congratulations on your purchase! It was a record year for gun sales and for many buyers, this was their first weapon. Buying a firearm is only the first step though, to be effective and safe one has to acquire skills. The good news is there are some drills you can do to develop proficiency with guns. Kevin discusses pistol drills for new owners over at Ricochet, which I highly suggest you do when you have a moment. These are a good starting point for learning how to effectively use your new pistol and will help guide your training. Learn the Four Rules and commit them to memory too, these will keep you safe while handling firearms. Remember too that owning a gun is a responsibility that one must take seriously. The anti-Civil Rights crowd will use any excuse or incident to push their agenda of firearms confiscation. Don’t give them the ammunition to do so; be safe, become proficient, and enjoy your new gun!