Terrorism is violence aimed at the people watching. Combating terrorism means not only trying to prevent terrorist attacks, but also reducing the terror these create. That can be achieved by actively involving the public. People cannot be permitted to be passive observers or vicarious victims of terror. Frightening the public with warnings but no specific instructions only increases anxiety.
People can be instructed about how they are targets of terror's psychological effects. They can be informed of the actual as opposed to imagined risks. The public can be enlisted in surveillance. Authorities in the states, which suffered from years of IRA terrorism, are confident they will be quickly informed of suspicious objects or activities. Children and adults can be educated about ordinary measures to take in case of man-made or natural disasters.
In some Scandinavian countries, every adult member of the community is assigned a role in civil defense. Even if never called upon, having a useful role reduces anxiety.
The ultimate protection against terrorism depends not on the thickness of concrete barriers or the severity of the penal code. It depends on the individual and collective courage of the entire population. We may have to live with terrorism, but we do not have to live in terror.
“Even an armed individual needs to rely primarily on his or her most important weapons system — the brain. If the brain is properly engaged and a person has the proper mindset, practices good situational awareness and recognizes a problem while it is still developing, they put themselves in a much better position to effectively deploy and employ their body, knife, gun or whatever secondary weapon they have access to.