The failed Islamic terrorist attack in Garland, Texas, this past weekend against a free speech conference wasn’t a wake-up call.

It was instead an “I told you so” moment.

Counter-terrorism experts have been warning for years that the United States is not ready—neither psychologically nor physically—for the attacks on soft targets that we all know is coming.

NRA’s Life of Duty noted that chilling fact almost a year ago.

While we are all justifiably proud of the Garland traffic officer who brought a Glock 21 to a fight against terrorists wearing body armor and carrying carbines and decisively won, let’s not kid ourselves. The assault in Garland was only a failure because the terrorists were dim-witted amateurs who didn’t realize that the school-owned target they drove more than a thousand miles to attack was well-protected with multi-layer defenses.

If the same two amateur jihadis had attacked an average school, mall, concert, or church with the same firearms and “fools rush in” game plan, they might have succeeded in creating a mass casualty event.

Indeed, ISIS is claiming to have terror cells in 15 states, and 71 trained fighters waiting for orders to carry out strikes on sort targets. I frankly suspect that if you include Hamas, Hezbollah, and al Qaeda-linked foreign fighters who have been streaming over the undefended Mexican border for more than a decade leaving a trail of prayer rugs and Koranic verses in their wake, I suspect that we can conservatively estimate to have hundreds of terrorists in the country, merely waiting on orders to strike.

The only rational response to the refusal of our federal government to take the threat of an American Beslan, Mumbai, or Westgate Mall seriously is to dramatically adjust our own training and choice of weaponry as American citizens.

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I’ve written several times in the past about my decision to ditch my single-stack “pocket nine” for concealed carry with a single backup magazine for a more robust and capable duty-grade handgun and two spare magazines. There was absolutely nothing at all wrong with the Kahr CM9 that had been my primary concealed carry gun, but as I watched terror attacks overseas, and multi-man home invasions,  flash-mob violence, and race riots here at home, it became quite obvious to me that a pistol designed to protect you from a close-quarters mugging simply wasn’t going to have the rounds on-board or the range I desired against some of the emerging threats out there.

I’d carried Walther’s excellent PPQ (Police Pistol Quick) 5″ when at Gunsite Academy for their excellent 250 Defensive Pistol course, and I’d become fairly decent with it. While I’ll always be a rifleman at heart, I’d gotten tolerably decent with the PPQ,  and trusted that with 15+1 in the gun and two spare magazines, I was in a far better position to handle a wider variety of threats than I was when only carrying the stubby pocket pistol.

If the ISIS claims of pending attacks are more than just bluster, we’re going to need a lot more American citizens taking solid defensive pistol courses, and carrying larger, duty-grade pistols to serve as a possible counter to the threat of these domestic enemies with foreign ideals.

I don’t expect every American to develop the grit and skill of the 60-year-old Garland officer who brought those two terrorists down, but I am quite confident that the presence of skilled concealed carriers at the scene of a developing attack can force the terrorists to break from their primary mission of mass murder to deal with the threats presented by a determined citizen.

While I would never presume to speak for others, I would consider it a worthy sacrifice if I were able to simply force terrorists to take cover, or focus their attentions on me if that would afford other citizens the few seconds needed to run for safety, and a few seconds more for other good guys with guns to close with and destroy those who would do us harm.

Now, more than ever, it is imperative that good people obtain concealed carry permits, get the best defensive handgun training they can afford, and carry duty-grade handguns with multiple spare magazines in order to defend that which we love against those burning with with a zealot’s hate.

When the next Islamic terror attack hits, one of us will be a first responder.

Whether or not we are armed and trained to perform at our best when that happens is entirely up to us.