Why Combating Terrorism In Large Cities Requires Gun Rights Reform

A bicycle lies on a bike path at the crime scene where investigators work after a motorist earlier Tuesday drove onto the path near the World Trade Center memorial, striking and killing several people, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

Yesterday, New York City dodged a bullet. An attempted suicide bombing failed, where the bomber was the only one with any serious injuries. During the morning rush, New Yorkers were lucky. Such an attack had the potential to kill or injure dozens.

This follows Halloween’s deadly truck attack where eight people were killed when a terrorist ran over a number of people, killing eight just a smidge over a month earlier.

London’s mayor stirred up a lot of anger when he said that terrorism was “part and parcel of living in a big city.”

Right now, politicians are scrambling to figure out just what to do. How can they combat terrorism like this?

The subway attack, like the Halloween attack, are both what are referred to as “lone-wolf” attacks, meaning there’s little chatter for intelligence agencies to pick up, there’s no orders from ISIS or Al Queda, nothing. It’s a guy planning this in his living room after he gets off work for the day. Unless he slips up somewhere along the way, it’s virtually impossible for anyone to prevent an attack like this using typical law enforcement or intelligence techniques.

During a press conference yesterday, officials were reminding people to notify the police if they find anything suspicious. That’s easy to say, but if you find something suspicious involving someone of Middle Eastern descent, you can just as easily be labeled a racist in this day and age. Further, a lot of people find something suspicious without understanding why. They pick it up subconsciously and can’t actually tell a police officer just why they find that guy over there suspicious.

Without a reason, we all know that the police officer is likely to say a thank you and then go about their day. In a city like New York, if a police officer investigated everyone someone found suspicious they’d never get anything else done.

So what can be done?

Politicians are stymied. This wave of attacks is almost impossible for police and the intelligence community to do anything about. That means politicians need to think outside the box.

The thing is, they’re almost there. They’ve almost figured it out.

You see, they want the public’s help, but they’re not ready to ask the public for the help they really and truly need.

They need armed civilians in every city, on every subway platform, walking in every park. They need them everywhere, and for at least one political party, that’s an anathema.

Let’s be realistic. The police simply can’t be everywhere. Anywhere law enforcement is, then becomes a place that a would-be terrorist will simply not be because they know there aren’t enough officers for everywhere. The Halloween attack took place on a freaking bike path, for crying out loud. Would you have considered that a likely target?

Probably not, so why should the police have?

Yet when you have armed citizens around, you don’t need as much of a police presence. While a uniformed officer is a great deterrent for a lot of things, they really can’t be everywhere. However, when you have armed citizens on hand, there’s already someone to deal with the threat.

What’s required for that to happen

To get where we need to be on that front requires a few thing. For one, it requires national reciprocity. The idea that the Second Amendment requires a license is annoying, to say the least, but that’s the world we live in. National reciprocity minimizes that burden in many ways, making it possible for people to not only be licensed but to carry their firearm to any city or state in the nation.

It’s worth noting that while New York is our largest city, it’s also got the toughest gun laws in the nation. There’s virtually no way for armed citizens to reach enough numbers to actually make a difference, and if you don’t think the terrorists know this, you’re an idiot. It’s hard to believe that doesn’t factor into their thinking.

Remember that while the goal is to kill a lot of people, there are other crowded places in this country on any given day. They may happen more regularly in big cities, but they can happen anywhere. San Bernadino is a prime example of how a terrorist attack can happen in a smaller community.

So why focus on New York City?

Sure, part of it is because it’s a major city and viewed as part of the heartbeat of the United States, and part may just be that because of the number of people in the city, it’s statistically more likely to be the home of people who get radicalized to some degree. But part of it may also be that they know there’s no one to stop them.

By empowering gun owners with concealed carry permits, you now change the math. Would-be terrorists now have to consider not just the uniformed police officer or the odd plainclothes detective, but also the armed citizen who has absolutely no problem with sending them on to their 72 virgins. Now they have to guess as to the probabilities of meeting an armed response not just from police, but from anyone.

Yet national reciprocity alone won’t make the problem go away.

We also need politicians to stop looking at guns as the enemy. The enemy is the enemy, whether it’s a garden-variety criminal or an ISIS-loving terrorist who wants to destroy our way of life. While it’s fine to discuss keeping guns out of terrorists’ hands, we also need to ensure that we’re not hurting the law-abiding citizen who can help defend others. Frankly, though, any such discussion needs to remember the 2015 Paris attacks. Despite France’s strict gun laws and similar laws from surrounding nations, ISIS-backed terrorists were able to pull off a string of coordinated attacks, killing 130 people.

Elected officials of both parties need to stop viewing the law-abiding gun owner and concealed carry permit holder as a criminal in the waiting. Statistically, that’s just not what happens and a lot of us are pretty resentful over the implication. Further, and more important to this discussion, all it does is alienate the longest line of defense in this country against terrorism.

Instead, officials with hestiancy toward guns and gun owners need to take a step back and recognize that we are at war. We’ve been at war since September 11, 2001 and just because Afghanistan and Iraq are quiet, it doesn’t mean the war is over. Instead, it’s simply shifted to a new battlefield…and yesterday reminded us that the battlefield is here.

We, the average gun owner, are not the enemy. Stop treating us like it and recognize what you have in us.

Further, state houses–the bodies that determine just where we can carry a firearm–need to recognize that the terrorists will ignore those laws, but the people who can save lives, will.  They’re disarming the citizens who are ready to fight on this new battle front and empowering our enemies.

“There will be a rifle behind every blade of grass.”

AR-15s are the “modern musket” for contemporary militiamen. According to U.S. federal law, the modern militia is nearly everyone capable of being called to serve as a draftee or a volunteer. Photo via Defense Review.

Admiral Yamamoto, the supreme commander of the Japanese fleet, allegedly warned his superiors of the dangers of invading the mainland U.S. “There will be a rifle behind every blade of grass,” he reportedly said.

There’s a good chance that the quote is apocryphal, but there’s something important in it none the less. The United States has a constitution that guarantees the right of the people to keep and bear arms, and the reasoning is for the “security of a free state.” Unlike every other nation on Earth, our Founding Fathers recognized that the burden of defending our nation ultimately relied on the people.

While Yamamoto may not have said this quote, I suspect he said something similar enough. Yamamoto spent a good bit of time in the U.S. during his career, and he knew Americans fairly well. He knew that coming over to get rowdy could have dire consequences, and not just because of the American Navy. He knew that we were a nation of armed citizens and that any attempt to invade would be costly for the invaders.

Well, we’re being “invaded” now. We have terrorists in our streets. The next attacker is probably already here, making plans and looking for a place to strike.

We need to remind him and his fellow travelers that we may not use the model of “citizen soldier” for most Americans, but there are still citizen warriors, and we need the politicians in Washington and our state houses to make it possible for us to do our duty to our country. We need them to get the laws out of our way so that we can step up and protect the American people, just as the Founding Fathers intended.

No, we can’t stop everything. Trying to stop a suicide bomb is…challenging, I would imagine. However, we can, perhaps, draw their attention to us long enough for others to escape. We can be a speed bump, something that slows them down enough so innocent bystanders can flee to safety. We can help.

But only if our elected officials at state, federal, and even local level will recognize it and actually let us do something.