When one of these bad terrorist attacks happen, many people have an interesting response: they sign up for pistol courses to get licensed for concealed carry. The classes fill up quickly and gun shops do a land office business. This was especially true after 9-11, but I’m hearing similar reports following the London attack. I understand the impulse. I live in a medium-sized city. I don’t live in one of those huge front line cities that face a high probability of an attack, yet I find myself feeling glad to have the big .45 and some extra mags on me in these times when it seems like the war is everywhere. Places where I can’t take my gun, I just don’t go.
Gun grabbers and opponents of shall issue concealed carry are fond of pointing out that concealed handguns aren’t a lot of help in stopping suicide bombers. (OK, so what’s your point?) Show me something that has been successful with stopping the suicide bombers. However, experience has shown that armed civilians can help stop terrorist actions. Israel police spokesman Gil Kleiman said, “We’ve seen it time and time again. Armed civilians who are well-trained save people’s lives… If there isn’t a policeman on the scene, civilians can deal immediately with a terrorist situation.” In 2004, Abraham Rabinovich reported in The Washington Times, “Armed civilians have played a significant role in bringing down terrorists during the Palestinian uprising, most recently during an attack this week by a Palestinian gunman at a Tel Aviv restaurant where a wedding party was under way. A 46-year-old civilian packing a pistol fatally shot the terrorist at close range after three persons had been killed and he had been wounded. When a radio reporter asked the man whether he was a member of the security forces, he said he was a shoe salesman.” Imagine that, an ordinary citizen who can use a pistol lawfully and competently to save lives. (“That’s not supposed to happen. Only cops can have guns,” wails the Brady Campaign. “Someone might get hurt,” cries the Violence Policy Center.)
An armed civilian probably wouldn’t be able to stop a suicide bomber, unless an unusual combination of circumstances came together. But with gun attacks and kidnappings, an armed civilian on the scene could make a difference. The Twin Towers might be standing today if a few armed civilians had been on those planes. This begins to get at the true sense of what the founders meant when they talked about an unorganized citizen militia. They weren’t talking about small bands of extremists out in the woods plotting the overthrow of the government and they weren’t talking about the National Guard either. The founders were thinking about ordinary people who equipped themselves and weren’t on the government payroll who could respond to sudden threats when the army and law enforcement weren’t there or lacked the strength to respond effectively. Every time a civilian arms himself or herself, gets some training, and begins to think in terms of providing for the security of their home, their own family and themselves, they’re responding to the idea of the militia that the founders had in mind. It’s a good idea and a rational idea, despite the distortions of the concept we have seen in recent years. I think the need for civilians to take responsibility for their own security will only increase in the years to come. Our armed forces and law enforcement are stretched too thin to provide real security for American citizens (and I’m not sure I would want them to do be doing that even if they could).
Getting back to people signing up for pistol courses, I guess it’s better late than never, but the time to get prepared is now, not when TSHTF. It’s a good thing that people are waking up to the reality that they have to take care of themselves. It’s good that they are abandoning the unrealistic expectation that the great nanny state will solve all of their problems. It can’t and it won’t.
More important than the tactical considerations of what kind of threat a CCW holder might be able to address, is the shift in psychology represented by people being willing to arm themselves in response to terrorist threats. It’s a shift from victim to fighter. It says, “I’m not going to be intimidated. I’m going to fight back.”