Nashville Bombing Lesson: Beware of Normalcy Bias


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By now you’re aware of the bombing that took place in Nashville, Tennessee on Christmas day. If you’re thinking it isn’t a gun-related issue because, bomb, you’re only partially correct. The way the bombing played out gives us a valuable reminder to be aware of our surroundings and not to fall prey to normalcy bias.

From The Tennessean:

“Nashville is turning from relief to resolve, Mayor John Cooper said Friday evening after an early morning explosion downtown upended Christmas Day and caused destruction for several blocks.

No known suspects nor motive have been announced behind a bomb that detonated inside a parked RV on Nashville’s historic Second Avenue near Lower Broadway.

Police have found what they believe are human remains but had not confirmed any fatalities.”

The source of the bomb was, as stated above, an RV. It’s worth noting the people behind the bombing were polite enough to put a warning on the RV prior to the blast.

This image taken from surveillance video provided by Metro Nashville PD shows a recreational vehicle that was involved in a blast on Friday, Dec. 25, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. An explosion shook the largely deserted streets early Christmas morning, shattering windows, damaging buildings and wounding some people. Police were responding to a report of shots fired when they encountered a recreational vehicle blaring a recording that said a bomb would detonate in 15 minutes, Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake said. Police evacuated nearby buildings and called in the bomb squad. (Metro Nashville PD via AP)

This from the New York Post:

“The RV that blew up in Nashville on Friday morning was playing a recording that warned it was going to explode, the city’s police chief said.

The recording said “a potential bomb would detonate within 15 minutes,” Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake said during an afternoon news conference.

Officers who had responded to reports of shots fired in the area “decided to evacuate the buildings nearby” and were knocking on doors when the RV exploded, Drake said.”

Yes, there were injuries, but no reporting deaths, even though they found human remains. Let’s move past the horror and outrage of this bombing – of any bombing – and consider what this reminds us as gun owners about normalcy bias.

What is normalcy bias? It’s the tendency to see what you expect to see. It’s when you ignore a threat or warning because it isn’t expected or a normal part of your life. Normalcy bias gets people injured and killed. This time the attacker warned people that the RV was going to explode. How many people ignored that warning, assuming it was a prank or at least something not to be taken seriously?

It’s something Mas Ayoob talks about as well. People have this inherent belief that bad things could never happen to them and end up going through the following stages revolving around an attack: first, it can’t happen to me…second, wait, is this really happening to me?…third…oh, hell, it IS happening to me.

In those spaces do you think the frozen, shocked victim is responding well to the threat or are they getting pummeled or killed due to their complacency?

As gun owners, it’s also a risk that you might feel somehow invulnerable to the threats non-gun-owners are beset by because hey, you have a gun! It doesn’t work that way.

Carrying a gun is an enormous responsibility and it does you no good to have it if you aren’t alert to your surroundings. Can you shoot a bomb? No, but you can pay attention to what is going on and get out of a suspicious area. Just because something seems to ludicrous to be believed doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously.

Better to potentially overreact by leaving an area you’re thinking could possibly be dangerous than to be maimed or killed because normalcy bias or ego convince you to stay put.

Beware normalcy bias. Learn to pay attention to your surroundings. Live to fight another day, guys.

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