By now, everyone has likely learned of the terrorist attacks that befell Paris last Friday. As of this writing, reports indicate that at least 129 people were killed and an additional 352 injured. The so-called Islamic State (ISIS) group claimed responsibility. Unsurprisingly, early reports indicate that at least one of the terrorist perpetrators infiltrated Europe as a refugee from Syria.
In his immediate response to these terrorist attacks, French President Francois Hollande declared that France “is a nation that knows how to defend itself…” Well actually, no, that point is not quite accurate is it? In point of fact, like so many European nations, France generally does not allow its citizens to defend themselves via meaningful means commensurate with the threat they potentially face.
Indeed, the nation does not guarantee the right to firearms ownership (as does the United States Constitution) and although such ownership is not outright banned, per se, the carrying of them in public for personal defense effectively is.1 Over time, France has legislatively developed a culture that vilifies firearms, their owners, and consequently ownership and/or carrying of small arms in that country is virtually nonexistent.
And this is evidenced in these latest tragedies that have befallen Parisians of late. Between the Charlie Hebdo attacks last year, the attempted attack on a Paris-bound train three months ago, and this latest one, several observations should be quite clear:
1) Strict gun control regulation did not prevent evil people from obtaining weapons and carrying out their evil designs. This demonstrable pattern of state ineptitude simply cannot be ignored in any meaningful gun politics discussion, whether concerning terrorism or more common gun-related crime.
2) Once bad guys put their designs into action, the state has a low probability of limiting the damage and is very inefficient in its responses. This is simply a product of basic resource allocation versus inherent limitations. Agents of the state, be they police or military, simply cannot be everywhere you are at all times (and thank goodness for that, for a number of different reasons). But one can prepare themselves and have the means of defending themselves present whenever and wherever they are, if the state does not forcibly restrict this right.
3) State policies, whether intentional or not, effectively made the victims of this and previous incidents proverbial “sitting ducks.” The natural outcome of regulations of any kind is that the very people whom were already law-abiding citizens are typically the ones who abide by the new laws. This is especially true in the case of firearms-related crime, because obviously someone who is willing to commit often-times capital crimes are not likely to pay much attention to regulatory possession laws. These policies arguably create victims rather than protect them.
Terrorists, as with mass murders, are by their very nature cowardly. Given the option, neither wish to engage what are commonly considered “hardened” targets, where potential victims have the means and fortitude to fight back. Certainly their respective goals may be vastly different but both are nonetheless similarly dependent upon the infliction of mass casualties to achieve those goals, an outcome that is intuitively predicated on targeting “soft” targets (i.e., traditional or statutory “gun-free zones” in their various forms.)
Make no mistake: this is, plain and simple, an ethical issue. At its heart lays the often-ignored but fundamental question of whether or not you believe that people have a basic right to defend themselves and others in the face of violence or whether victims only have a right to await the arrival of others (from the state) for help, even at the high cost of their lives. This is a question of whether you believe it is morally superior to have 481 dead or injured people in pursuit of policies that are demonstrably ineffective, or if you believe your loved ones deserve a fighting chance if they, God forbid, find themselves in such terrible circumstances. This is a question of whether you think it is better for society if your sister, daughter, or mother is raped rather than their having the means to dispatch a sexual predator when he attacks them.
It is my position that any government is misguided at best and downright evil at worst if it deprives its constituency of the basic right to not be slaughtered like cattle in a stockyard. At least some countries around the world appear to be wizening to this concept. The stark reality is that the government of France has a fair bit of this latest bloodshed on its own hands. As the old idiom goes, the path to hell is paved with good intentions.
For those who continue to think that American gun control will work out differently, that the state will be there to protect/rescue you if/when bad people with bad intent come to seek you out, I would strongly recommend considering whether Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods would likely agree with that assessment. Delegating the safety and security of yourself and your loved ones to others is, quite simply, a losing game.
Take a good, long look at all of these events. This is what gun control looks like. This is the world of too little, too late that gun control advocates want, whether they realize it or not.
UPDATE (18 November 2015): Some people in global positions of public responsibility get it: during an interview following a similar terrorist attack on helpless civilians in Kenya in 2013, then-Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said “societies have to think about how they’re going to approach the problem [of terrorism of this ilk.] One is to say we want an armed citizenry; you can see the reason for that. Another is to say the enclaves are so secure that in order to get into the soft target you’re going to have to pass through extraordinary security.”
He continued: “How do you protect soft targets? That’s really the challenge. You can’t have armed police forces everywhere. … Ask yourself: if that was Denver, Col., if that was Texas would those guys (Al-Shabab terrorists) have been able to spend hours, days, shooting people randomly? What I’m saying is it makes police around the world question their views on gun control. It makes citizens question their views on gun control. You have to ask yourself, ‘Is an armed citizenry more necessary now than it was in the past with an evolving threat of terrorism?’ This is something that has to be discussed.”
“For me it’s a profound question. People are quick to say ‘gun control, people shouldn’t be armed,’ etc., etc. I think they have to ask themselves: ‘Where would you have wanted to be? In a city where there was gun control and no citizens armed if you’re in a Westgate mall, or in a place like Denver or Texas?”
UPDATE (23 November 2015): Even the police chief of one of the nation’s more historically notorious anti-gun cities is not pretending common Left-espoused gun control policies are a solution to this mess. Washington D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier recently told 60 Minutes: “If you’re in a position to try and take the gunman down, to the take the gunman out, it’s the best option for saving lives before police can get there. … The fact is, most active shooters kill their victims in less than 10 minutes.”
UPDATE (3 December 2015): As predicted, this sort of terrorism has come to an American anti-gun state, but I am sure this reality will be written off by hoplophobic statists as pure coincidence. Indeed, the president will not even call the event what it is – terrorism, instead referring to it as simply “gun violence” – but then this brand of confirmation bias and newspeak is not exactly new to the administration.
1. (As translated):
Article L. 315-1
Carrying firearms of categories A [e.g., high-capacity pistols/rifles], B [handguns, semi-automatic long guns with capacity of 4+], as well as firearms of category D [shotguns] isted by Decree in State Council, or essential components of firearms of categories A and B or corresponding ammunition, is forbidden, as well as their transport without genuine reason (emphasis added; basic self-defense is not currently considered “genuine reason” in France as it is in much of the United States).
Article R. 315-1
It is forbidden:
1° To carry firearms, components of firearms and ammunition of categories A and B, except in cases provided for in Articles R. 315-5 to R. 315-11;
2° To transport without a genuine reason firearms, components of firearms and ammunition of category B;
3° To carry and transport without genuine reason firearms, components of firearms and ammunition of categories C [e.g., bolt-action rifles with capacity of ≤3 rounds, lever-action rifles) and D.