Though not particularly articulated as such, I think that American’s reluctance to wage war is the fact that the use of force is done in the absence of due process. But, saying that, when Americans to wage war, a successful war, it is best done in the American style of warfare–to take the battle to the enemy and take the enemy apart. One of the distinct advantages of this style of warfare is the fact, by virtue of distance, the rule of law can be preserved at home while the violation of such occurs on the enemy’s territory.
Which brings us to the manner in which the manhunt for the two Muslim terrorists was conducted in Boston. In some respects, the response should be frightening. A whole city shut down by a literal army of militarized police forces, all with weapons unholstered and at the ready. Door to door searches by these same government agents against an essentially unarmed civilian populace. Massachusetts’ gun law make it so; if these gun laws existed in 1775 there’d be no Lexington or Concord and we’d all be speaking Canadian (ht: P.J. O’Rourke).
This brings into direct relief the wisdom of the manner in which our last President chose to fight. That is, taking the battle to the enemy. It had the advantage of keeping the enemy so busy that they had to time to take the initiative to our shores. It avoided having to fight a battle in the midst of your own civilian population with all of the attendant problems of stretching the Bill of Rights. With a city essentially under martial law, complete with police forces essentially indistinguishable for infantry soldiers, where were the limits? Could they enter a house against the owner’s wishes? What questions could or did they ask? “Did you see anyone that looked like the two bombers?” Or, “Are you hiding someone here? We’ll need to come and check.” “Do you have any guns, we’ll need to make sure.”
Not paranoia. With out any warrants, the police entered multiple homes in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and seized guns. Guns to this very day that haven’t been returned.
First, is the problem of blowing the problem up out of proportion. Let’s face it, two terrorists against a city of millions and the whole city shut down. In some less ‘enlightened’ cities in fly-over country, the minute those two came up for air, it would have been all over before the police arrived. The shoot out at the Seven-Eleven that left the older of the two dead, would have ended with both of those two dead or captured in the hands of armed citizens before the police arrived.
But, like Mumbai in 2008, a terrorist plot paralyzed an entire city because the extinction of a gun culture, so it is with Boston. A population totally habituated to letting the ‘experts,’ the ‘authorities’ handle it. A entire city unable to two isolated losers because only the authorities should handle guns. In my hometown of Casper, where essentially every household is armed, these two fugitives wouldn’t have a chance. Yes, they might still set off a bomb. But, after that, they better be miles out of town if they want a chance to survive.
More to the point is the fact that by creating a conditioning of someone else handling the problem, we create bigger problems than if we trusted our own citizens to use their judgement and handle the problem on a ‘retail’ level. Think back to September 11, 2001. What if the eight pilots and copilots were armed? (And, don’t give me the shocked response of ‘guns on an airplane, they’ll go off and we’ll crash!’. The planes crashed anyway.) What if the common ‘wisdom,’ going back to the first hijackings in the 60’s to Cuba of sitting by passively had not applied and the passengers rushed the hijackers. How much different the fundamental history of the last decade would have been.
Then, there is the conditioning that placing an entire city under essentially martial law is now the norm. Maybe it was, in this case, justified in the name of public safety. But, what about the future, will the deployment of an army in a major city be done for baser reasons? Rooting out undesirables? Confiscating guns? Searching to ‘incriminating’ contraband? Public safety or dry run for a police state?
Here we have an assertion that the failed car bomb attempt in Times Square may have been retaliation for the South Park controversy concerning the allegedly offensive depiction of Muhammad. In the many commentaries on Comedy Central’s censorship of South Park’s episode on Muhammad in a bear costume; one misses the role of the Second Amendment and it true purposes in the defense of personal liberty. And, why the the right to keep and bear arms is so important in matters such as these.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone, South Park’s creators grew up in Texas and Colorado. Though they may have tromped around in the uber-liberal environs of Boulder, Colorado, they, nonetheless live cheek and jowl next to a culture that accepts personal firearm ownership. This is a region, where the probability of a home or car complete with at least one immediately operable firearm approaches unity. It is also a region where said firearms are in the possession of individuals who know how to operate them.
Contrast this to the situation in New York City, headquarters for Comedy Central, where the Second Amendment has been gun-controlled into oblivion. Unless, of course, you’re financially or politically connected enough to score a concealed carry permit.
The net effect is that Parker and Stone probably knew that they would be targeted for all sorts of abuse for this latest Muhammad episode; possibly even expected hot-lead-fired-in-anger abuse. But, I suspect that they may even go as far as to have firearms in their possession. If nothing else, in Colorado, as most of the inter-mountain west, a firearm, with little bureaucratic meddling can be obtained in short order.
In contrast, the Muslim website that warned of a fate similiar to Theo Van Gogh takes on serious gravity in New York City since your life is entirely tied up in the interest and competence of governmental authority. Since the police aren’t in the business of protecting people (their only mandate is to enforce the law), you’re on your own.
In the west, you’re still on your own. But, you at least got a gun.
So, to someone like my self, a death threat would be very unsettling, to say the least. And, yes I would call the police–it may help with creating leads. But, I know that the police aren’t going to camp out at my doorstep as my bodyguards.
However, I would do one more thing. Check the security of my home and business. And, check that my firearms are operable.
A firearm isn’t a talisman against evil. Nor, does it give me the right to go and shoot my way out of every tight spot. Nor, will I necessarily engage in words or activities to provoke anger. An armed society is a polite society (h.t. Heinlein, I think). Moreover, Parker and Stone are in the business of potentially provoking such anger; no one said that South Park is a cuddly chick flick. But, a firearm lends an enormous psychological advantage in giving me the reassurance that, in the gravest extreme, as a truly last resort, I have the means to preserve myself and my family. And, with that calming reassurance, I now have the ability to think through and consider other alternatives to solving a potential crisis.
Moreover, living a culture and environment of gun ownership, the bad guys, most likely outsiders, are going to have a much harder time driving an SUV ladened with explosives without getting noticed by neighbors who are going to start to ask questions. One of the characteristics of those who carry firearms is that they are going to be more alert; more cognizant of their environment. Most people live in condition white, oblivious. Gun owners are more likely to be in condition yellow; not paranoid, just aware.
In New York City, confronted with the gravest extreme, you maybe have a kitchen drawer with some knives. In other words, unless your some highly trained martial arts aficionado, you’re dead. The police will then come and enforcing the law about bringing murders to justice, will dust for fingerprints, zip you up in your body bag and cart you off to the city morgue for more clue analysis. The folks at the Comedy Central home office know this. They caved.
This now brings us to the issue of probable cause. The use of lethal force is limited to stopping an imminent threat of loss of life or serious bodily harm. This involves a reasonable perception that the person stopped had the proximity, means and motive to carry out an attack that would so threaten loss of life or serious bodily harm. Say, a 6’6″ man with a hunting knife ten feet away yelling he’s going to kill you.
While the threats over this South Park episode can’t be directly construed as imminent harm to life and limb; it carries weight as such since it emanates from a Muslim. Unlike the other major religions where killing in the name of religion is very clearly outside the pale, this is a religion that has a significant and numerous enough minority of followers who will, in fact, carry out threats of violence and murder in the name of Islam. It is a religion, who’s holy book, the Koran, specifically advocates killing certain specific enemies. And, it is a threat that Comedy Central has construed as an imminent threat to life and limb. Hence censorship.
The real purpose of the Second Amendment is to give each individual citizen the physical means to defend life, liberty and property from criminal elements; whether the common street variety or those working at the behest of a criminal government. Or, in this case, to give the individual citizen the means to defend those same rights to life, liberty and property when the government abdicates its duty to defend those rights. Unfortunately, with our Secretary of Homeland Security so tied down with identifying critics of Dear Leader Obama as terrorist threats, you’d better move to Colorado and get a gun because you’re on your own.
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.