Cowboys, India(ns) and the Second Amendment
The iconic cowboy. Tall, rangy, taciturn. Given to few words. An economy of motion; yet when so moved, actions that really count. And, on his right hip, a firearm; a six-shooter. An interesting icon since most warrior-heros from other cultures trend to a larger than life heros, some form of royalty, in the form of a samurai or knight. Yet, for most Americans, the hired hand, the livestock herder, the man of uncertain pedigree serves as our very distinctly American samurai.
The identification with such an individual comes from a distictly American trait of independent thought and action. The firearm represents a very physical confirmation of that independence. But, by having the means to have some say in the gravest extreme, that same firearm also leads to a independence of thought and action that does not wait for approval from some authority, usually governmental.
But, because the private ownership of firearms is a rebuke to this utopian zeal. To own firearms is to affirm that freedom and liberty are not gifts from the state. It is to reserve final judgment about whether the state is encroaching on freedom and liberty, to stand ready to defend that freedom with more than mere words, and to stand outside the state’s totalitarian reach, this very icon is very much reviled over large swaths of the earth. Particularly by the elites who fancy themselves as Plato’s Philosopher Kings. Philosopher Kings who find it offensive that beings lesser than themselves would have the temerity to make decisions independent of their elevated educational attainments. Especially cow-excrement encrusted cowboys. Like John Wayne. Like Ronald Reagan. Like George Bush.
So, now we come to the terrorist events, courtesy Islamic imperialism, in Mumbai. It is unbelievable that ten men could so paralyze a city of some 19 million people. The short answer to the success of this attack can be traced to not enough cowboys.
None of the victims or those who survived and escaped that any credible means to defend themselves. Even if, at each of the locations attacked, there were one or two individuals in possession of a firearm the results could have been so much different. I’m not impressed that any of these terrorist jackals had any real training to confront determined and armed opposition. You’re going to look like a real pro on the security camera if you’re shooting at helpless, unarmed victims.
I remember, in the run-up to Desert Storm, about the “battle-hardened” Iraqi army that our soldiers would confront. But, this battle hardening was shooting at poorly trained Iranian teenagers in the swamps bordering Iran and Iraq during the previous ten years of war between Iraq and Iran. And, it turned out that those “battle-hardened” Iraqi soldiers were rapidly rolled up by the US Army; sometimes in a matter of hours.
I suspect the same is here. All it would have taken was one of those policemen at the train station to open fire while the terrorists were re-loading. The mere sound of a bullet whining by those terrorists would have changed the tactical dynamic.
Then, of course, after the firewall of police protection was breached, was that there was no recourse to avert the killing since no one else had a gun. Heavens that the cowboy mentality be allow to pervade the land of Gandhi. Had such a stunt been tried in a restaurant in Texas, Florida or Wyoming (states where I have or had a concealed carry permit), there’s a high probability that one of the patrons would have been armed. Moreover, said patron would have, by training, the presence of mind to engage these terrorists in a methodical manner, thereby increasing the chances that the murders of Mumbai would have ended very quickly. A armed, well-motivated armed citizen could have used the cover of the confusion to successfully close in on the bad guys and successfully engage them. Or, such an armed individual could have successfully, by shooting, created a new dynamic of confusion–this time for the assailants–to actually allow some of the victims to escape.
The point is good guys shooting back at the very onset would have so altered the tactical dynamic and greatly slowed the success of these terrorists. And, for the future, created an uncertainty that would serve as a deterrent for future such attacks.
And, oh my gosh, all those cowboys shooting up the joint! They would just leave heaps of dead strewn over the floor! On 9/11 airliners could have been punctured by wildly shot bullets that would have caused the plane to crash! Well, no armed citizens, no cowboys. And, oops! Heaps of bodies were strewn over the floors of two hotels, a train station and the Chabad House. And, four airliners did crash; one each in the World Trade Center towers, one in the Pentagon and one in a field in Pennsylvania. Gun-free zones and cowboy-free zones really work. Kumbayah!
Would such a “cowboy” mentality have caused casualties among the innocent? Maybe. But, statistically, armed citizens only mistake an innocent person for a criminal twopercent of the time. The error rate for police is eleven percent. Armed citizens have a very good track record in responsible use of lethal force. You have a total mal-deployment of forces. You can’t have the government everywhere guarding every mall, train station and hotel. You’re better off taking governmental forces, going to the source and attacking the bad guys at the source. Trust your citizens, armed citizens, to be capable of guarding the home front.
But, instead we are going to be inundated with sappy stories about “moral” victories of survivors prevailing, by pure luck, in the murderous rampages of Mumbai. The real moral is that the terrorist won and won big. Just like, for all of his brave efforts, Schlindler still didn’t make a real dent in the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis. For all of its critical acclaim, the movie Schlindler’s List still tiptoes around that pink elephant standing in the living room.
The only moral victory I’m really interested is the kind provided by Easy Company in Band of Brothers. The good guys, armed to the teeth, totally blow away the bad guys. And, that’s what should be happening against Islamic imperialism; in Mumbai and everywhere.
Finally, because of a fundamental distrust governments have towards individual citizens acting in a responsible manner with lethal force, the thwarting of such murders right at the “retail” level will have far bigger ramifications. Bigger ramifications since failure to stop this murderous rampage right at it inception allow it to grow to a point that we now have two nuclear powers, India and Pakistan, at odds again. Maybe even to the point of a shooting war.
Or, for the lack of a single armed passenger on any one of four flights on September 11, 2001, we saw three thousand Americans killed in the World Trade Center and at the Pentagon. And, four hijackings indeed rose from the level of a law enforcement problem to that of an act of war. An interesting “what-if.” What would the political dynamic be now, what would the last eight years look like, if armed citizens on four civilian airliners killed the 18 “holy” warriors on 9/11.