For the longest time, we have used terms like active shooter and active assailant to describe crimes involving an individual or individuals actively involved in killing other people, often in a random manner, seeking nothing other than to kill as many people as possible.
More accurate, however, is the term Active Killer to describe these individuals. As a precise term, it describes far more accurately the fact that a human being can be deadly with anything from a firearm to a frying pan.
It is useful to use a term that more accurately describes that human beings hurt other human beings, largely, with their hands. Yes, some kick. Some may headbutt. Largely, however, and this is a cross-cultural fact, humans hurt other humans with their hands. Re-framing violence in terms of this fact will help people become more awake, aware, and alert to how (not if) humans may be dangerous.
With the hands, a person can grab, slap, or punch you.
With an impact weapon such as a stick, pipe, or frying pan, a person can hit or club you.
With an edged weapon such as a knife, a needle, a broken piece of glass, or a pair of scissors, a person can slash or stab you.
With a belt, chain, or rope, a person can tie you up.
With a firearm, a person can shoot you.
And now, we have the Manhattan attacker who is yet another example of a person using their hands to manipulate the steering wheel of a vehicle to kill other people.
A person can injure or kill with any of the aforementioned items (i.e., hands or weapons). It can be against one person or many people. A firearm is often (though not always) a faster way of rapidly hurting multiple people. Any item, though, wielded by a bad guy can be used to hurt multiple people.
The person – in all these examples – is the doer of harm. The hands, however, are what physically execute the harm or hold the physical item with which the person executes the harm.
Let us now increase our survivability by paying closer attention to people’s hands. It’s the hands which kill.
Watching hands should be a part of everyone’s overall situational awareness. The degree to which you monitor people’s hands is the degree to which you will spot danger sooner, giving you an extra second or two to avoid, escape, or counterattack.
Watch the hands. And live in yellow.