A mass-shooting in the normally tranquil California desert-town of San Bernardino, on December 2, 2015, shocked the country and produced hysterical new calls from liberals that we “do something” about guns. Police and the FBI reported that a “devout” Muslim man and his wife – both heavily armed with rifles and improvised explosives – entered the San Bernardino Regional Center around mid-day, when the husband’s co-workers were holding a “holiday party.” They fired 65 to 75 shots, killing 14 and wounding at least 21 others in just a few minutes. After escaping to their vehicle, the couple engaged in a wild gunfight with police a mile from the initial crime scene. Both were fatally shot.
Reportedly the pair lived in a rented house in the nearby community of Redlands. Neighbors say they mostly kept to themselves, but that many people were observed coming and going. Numerous packages were delivered to the house, and there seemed to be a lot of late-night activity in the garage. A police-search of the house after the shooting uncovered a large cache of weapons, thousands of rounds of ammunition, numerous pipe-bombs, and the materials to make more. A neighbor said she didn’t report these curious activities because the people seemed to be Middle-eastern, and she didn’t want to be accused of “racial profiling.” (God help us!)
My pop used to say, “It’s not funny enough to laugh at, but we’re too big to cry…” Verily, though, it’s hard to blame this timid neighbor for being reluctant to come forward and get labeled as a probable racist. President Obama and his gang so roiled the racism issue, and so intimidated most ordinary people, that one can easily imagine witnesses not reporting an armed helicopter-drop into the White House grounds because the parties involved looked like members of a “protected” ethnic group.
Meanwhile, politicians of every stripe are living out the classic doggerel: “When in turmoil, when in doubt/Run in circles, scream and shout!” How can we stop this kind of thing? was the question being shouted from the housetops. Sycophantic media eagerly joined the chorus.
Some politicians claim to know the answer. Before the bodies were cold in San Bernardino, Mr. Obama practically ran to the microphones to demand that we pass “common-sense gun laws” to prevent this kind of atrocity from happening again. (Never waste a good crisis.)
Exactly what “common sense” meant to the president wasn’t clear, but from his previous preachments one infers that it involved making it nearly impossible to obtain a gun legally in the country. I believe he wanted his crowning “legacy achievement” to be a partial (or even total) repeal of the Second Amendment. He made it abundantly clear that he considers the right to keep and bear arms an outdated relic of pioneer days that does not belong in a modern, civilized society.
At some level, Mr. Obama does have a point. America is no longer what it once was – although probably not in the way he thinks. Some two centuries ago, John Adams wrote: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Are we still “a moral and religious people”? Many still are, of course. But clearly, too many are not. (Statisticians point out that even 1/10th of 1% miscreants would amount to 300,000 people.) Does this mean that free access to arms is a founding right that we must give up? This makes little sense. Criminals don’t obey firearms laws, so the only ones disarmed by Mr. Obama’s “common-sense” laws would be law-abiding people. Who (besides brigands and varlets) will be the better for that?
Yet the question remains: how can we protect society from crazed individuals, plus a growing population of people whose moral compass points in an entirely different direction from that of our founders and most Americans? The answer, as one might expect, is not simple. But it’s not rocket-science, either. Other societies, at other times, have dealt with the problem of faceless, unidentifiable, evil persons in their midst who unleash harm and terror on innocent people at unpredictable times.
One of those places was the British colony of Kenya. The time was the 1950s, when the Mau Mau uprising became an anti-colonialism force. The Mau Mau’s modus operandi was terrorism on whites who held most of the colony’s government posts. No one knew who the terrorists were, as their identity was a closely guarded secret. They might be your houseboy, grocery-deliveryman or other ordinary person. One night they would sneak into your house and murder you and your family; or they might gun you down in your driveway. The situation was completely chaotic. The Mau Mau seemed unstoppable.
Finally, the colonial government decreed that every white adult – male and female – must be armed at all times. Police were authorized to stop any individual on the street and ask to see his/her weapon. If a person couldn’t produce it, a fine would result. With the policy in full force, the Mau Mau terror simply faded away – defeated by a vigilant, war-experienced people who didn’t hesitate to take drastic action when it was called for.
Why was the measure effective? Were terrorists really that worried about grandmas, housewives and civil servants? Maybe not, but terrorists generally expect to be unopposed. It’s more fun that way. They’re not looking for the OK Corral. Certain depraved individuals get a thrill from seeing people cower in terror as they face death. But when the promise of low-cost sport evaporates, terrorism becomes far less attractive as an occupation.
Armed resistance from their prospective victims might not deter crazed religious fanatics, of course – be they Methodists, Amish, Muslims, Hindus, or Baptists. (I could be mistaken about the Methodists, who are unfailingly polite.) Even if true believers are willing to die heroically for their “cause,” the presence of armed individuals in any crowd of people is certain to save some lives. Numerous current events have shown what happens when none is present during an attack.
In the San Bernardino shooting, not a single person in a crowd of at least fifty could offer armed resistance. This was due to California laws that prohibit carrying arms into a public place of business. The same was true in Paris during 2015 attacks that killed over 100 people. France has strict gun-laws, so no one in that theater or restaurant was armed. Ditto for the Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut, where a disturbed young man shot twenty children to death in 2012. Other examples abound.
Even at Fort Hood, Texas – where in 2009 a crazed Muslim major killed thirteen and wounded thirty while shouting “Allahu akhbar” – not one person in a post full of experienced soldiers could respond with deadly force to the killer’s attack at a family restaurant. The reason: personnel entrusted with the world’s most powerful weapons may not carry personal arms on a military base.
The lesson for us from the defeat of the Mau Mau is obvious. We already know, by the experience of some of our own cities and states, that when citizens are known to be armed, violent crime decreases. At military bases – where most residents are experienced soldiers – the solution of arming the population could hardly be clearer.
For starters, the “gun-free zone” delusion must be abolished. It is a magnet for crime. In schools, businesses and government offices, as many workers as possible should be armed and trained to respond to threats – obviously on a volunteer basis, individually, but mandatory for all establishments. Of course, the racial element of 1950s Kenya would not be involved. An alarm system should be required in every public establishment – possibly linked to occupants’ cell-phones. Each room in a building would be equipped with an emergency-button and an indicator-panel.
If danger should arise, a teacher (or other worker) would press the button to sound an alarm in all other rooms, indicating the danger-point. Cell-phones, Ipads and other devices integrated into the system would be signaled. Armed workers would drop everything and converge on the endangered location with all deliberate speed to counter the threat. Students and unarmed workers would be trained to stand clear and take cover. The alarm would also notify the police.
This technology would cost time and money, of course, but how much is public safety worth to us? Training would be needed, and it would certainly disrupt what Americans consider normalcy. But there’s no value in pining for the past. We are at war, and we must deal with that reality. If we don’t, many more people will be hurt.
Until Mr. Trump’s election, the terrorists have had a clear field. We haven’t kept them out of the country, and they seem to be everywhere. We don’t know who they are, and when we see something odd we’re afraid of being called “racists” if we report it. Americans in our comfy homes, cars, stadiums, shopping malls, schools, churches and workplaces are sitting ducks.
Despite Mr. Obama’s near-religious convictions about abolishing guns, disarming us will help only the bad guys. He was living in his own dream-world, protected by his Secret Service detail, but we are not. We have a serious problem here, and we need to come up with serious solutions. Let’s get to work.