“We have 71 trained soldiers in 15 different states ready at our word to attack any target we desire,” ISIS proclaimed on JustPasteIt.com. “Out of the 71 trained soldiers 23 have signed up for missions like Sunday, We are increasing in number bithnillah. Of the 15 states, 5 we will name… Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, California, and Michigan. The disbelievers who shot our brothers think that you killed someone untrained, nay, they gave you their bodies in plain view because we were watching.” Whatever that means. What we do know is that the Garland, Texas jihadis came a cropper when a cop shot and killed them both. Assuming ISIS can launch fresh attacks . . .
is that enough? How can we best defend ourselves against terrorists?
One approach: keep spending tens of billions of dollars on three-letter agencies, charging them with detecting and intercepting terrorist attacks. A method whose effectiveness is shrouded in secrecy and is, I might add, inherently suspect. While we don’t know about all the attacks the feds have stopped, it’s clear they can’t stop them all. The Garland assault happened, after all.
Another approach: increase police presence. Put an armed cop or two at every so-called soft target, as per the NRA’s cop-in-every-school post-Newtown proposal. Yeah, no thanks. The more cops we have in our public places the more these cops will find to do – and I don’t just mean sucking up tens of billions more in taxes. Which came first, the police or the police state? I have no desire to find out.
A better idea: arm the populace. Let the people defend themselves against terrorist attacks by force of arms. Even better: encourage them to do so openly. A few obviously armed Americans at every public gathering and formerly soft target would create a massive deterrent effect against terrorists. I’m thinking openly carried rifles as well as handguns. I mean, why not? A long gun is the best way to take out a bad guy, bar none.
Then again . . .
IEDs. Once you eliminate the easy option – taking out groups of people with a couple of guns Charlie Hebdo-style – the terrorists will change tactics. They’ll bomb their victims. And maybe strafe them with rifle fire in the ensuing chaos. Or blow the survivors up with a secondary or tertiary device. Whether carried concealed or openly, defensive firearms won’t do squat against a reasonably competent bomber.
Or terrorists in jets slamming into a building. Or a hijacked firetruck or eighteen wheeler aimed at a crowd. Or poison put into the air or water supply. Or a dozen other “non-cronfrontational” methods. Which kinda puts us back in the three-letter strategy: attempting to ID and stop terrorists before they can carry out their murderous plans.
Does that mean we’ve got no real option other than trusting those three-letter agencies and local LEOs to gather information – without trampling our freedoms?
This is not an academic exercise. Section 215 of The Patriot Act comes up for renewal in June. That’s the bit of the Act that gives the NSA and the FBI the legal right to vacuum up the call records of millions of innocent people. Strike that. Millions of people, period. Most every American violates some federal law or another at some point. The Wall Street Journal spelled it out in 2011:
“There is no one in the United States over the age of 18 who cannot be indicted for some federal crime,” said John Baker, a retired Louisiana State University law professor who has also tried counting the number of new federal crimes created in recent years.”
So, it’s not even a matter of tying the hands of the spies amongst us to defend the principle of innocent until proven guilty. It’s which crime does the federal government know you’ve committed and what are they going to do about it?
This highlights the hidden problem of fighting terrorism in the U.S.: the government and its citizens are not united in the fight. It’s us vs. them vs. them. The shocking lack of transparency surrounding Uncle Sam’s counter-terrorism efforts – which they claim is a necessity to git ‘er done – alienates average Americans from the task and puts us all at risk.
You could say that’s a feature not a bug for the feds, but I couldn’t possibly comment (for fear of being labeled a paranoid gun nut). Except to say this . . .
It’s high time that average Americans make their peace with peace officers and unite against the common foe. Wait. No. It’s early days yet. When terrorism becomes an accepted reality, that’s when the combined forces of armed, alert Americans and armed alert security professionals will occur. At least that’s what I hope will happen. I fear it will go the other way.
Terrorist attacks could well widen the gap between the government and the governed. “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of it” is an extremely seductive message for timid people who are not ready, willing or able to take responsibility for their own safety, the safety of their families and the safety of the community. The public’s acceptance of the anti-gunners’ laughable contention that “only the police are trained enough to handle guns” is deeply worrisome in that regard.
And that returns us to open carry. Open carry isn’t just a good idea to deter criminals or terrorists. It’s a good way to change participants’ mindset from passive to active. A way for citizens to tell themselves, their community and their government, I’m part of this effort, just like you. I’m ready to do my part to protect innocent life, just like you.
Partners are best when they’re equals. Open carriers are equal to law enforcement, not subservient. Tell that to Americans [justifiably] bitching about police brutality. But don’t forget to tell it to Americans each and every time a terrorist strikes. Otherwise, one way or another, the terrorists will win.
[h/t John in Ohio]