Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It could happen here II

It was reported last night that a plan to conduct several simultaneous Mumbai style attacks in Europe has been broken up.

In Mumbai, a group of Muslim terrorists were physically conditioned, trained, armed, and let loose in the middle of a large population of relatively unarmed citizens.  Literally, a pack of wolves were loose among the sheep.  Over 200 people were murdered before Indian authorities were able to liquidate the attackers.

London, Paris, or Berlin would be just as bad.  The governments there have effectively disarmed their population, at least partially by assuring their subjects that the police will protect them.  As we learned in Mumbai, even a policeman armed with a high powered rifle isn't much use when they are cowering behind a cement column when faced with a 'roided up madman in body armor throwing grenades and spraying 7.62x39 rounds around a train station or shopping mall.

Luckily, this plot appears to have been disrupted, at least for now.  But let's transplant the scenario to the United States. Let's say that a group of people decide to simultaneously go on shooting and grenade sprees in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Saint Louis.

The result would be a bloodbath.  Even assuming that our police and security agencies would be able to react quickly to the attacks, we can assume that at least for the first few hours of such an attack, the terrorists could pretty much kill at will. 

There are a few things going in our favor, though.  First, our police are for the most part well trained, well equipped professionals, and all major metropolitan have para-military SWAT forces that are specifically trained to deal with active shooters and hostage situations.  There are cases of both situations several times a year in the United States, and if a police force doesn't deal with them directly, they at least have access to after action reports that can be used to improve their training.

Second, in large parts of the United States, a not-insignificant portion of the non-police population walks around armed.  Most states allow at least some kind of carry for personal defense.  And even in some metropolitan areas, especially during hunting seasons, it's not uncommon to find high powered rifles or shotguns in a large number of vehicles.

So in addition to trained police forces, a pretty large percentage of the populace in some cities would not be slaughtered without a fight.  Granted, a person with a 9mm pistol and maybe two magazines of ammunition will be at a significant disadvantage against a group of determined terrorists using explosives and high powered rifles, but it's better than being rounded up and shot when the police are overwhelmed.

However, in large cities across the country, it's either completely illegal or legal-but-nigh-unto-impossible to own a firearm, much less carry one around with you.  In high-value target cities such as Washington, New York, Boston, or Chicago one of our strengths in such a wave of attacks have been taken away.  Maybe taken away is the wrong way to put this.  How about "The residents of these cities have, over several decades, given away their rights to effective self defense by electing politicians antagonistic to the concept of a regular citizens owning and carrying firearms".

So an attack in many of our major metropolitan cities would probably have results close to what happened in Mumbai.  The terrorists would run amuck pretty much unopposed for several hours while para-military and military governmental forces were brought to bear.

My point here is that "When seconds count, the police are only minutes away" is more than a slogan.  If our enemies are planning to do this in Europe, it's not hard to imagine that someone is planning such an operation in the United States.  As bad as dealing with a mugging or home invasion is, dealing with someone who has no bigger goal than killing as many people as possible before dieing is much worse.  We should remember that while our police are brave, dedicated professionals, they can't be everywhere.  We are citizens, not subjects.  Citizenship bestows responsibilities along with privileges and rights.  Our safety, and the safety of our families and communities, rests squarely on our shoulders. 

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