Ten minutes doesn’t seem like a long time, does it? And yet it can be an eternity in a crisis. Survivors of the terror attack at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris have described a scene of almost unthinkable horror: ISIS terrorists firing off bursts from their fully automatic firearms (most certainly banned in France, but easily acquired on the black market) into the crowd, and then methodically killing more as the minutes ticked by.
“It lasted for 10 minutes, 10 minutes, 10 horrific minutes when everybody was on the floor covering their heads and we heard so many gunshots, and the terrorists were very calm, very determined, and they reloaded three or four times their weapons.” Those are the words of reporter Julien Pearce, who was attending the show at the Bataclan and ended up becoming part of a story no journalist ever wants to cover.
Back in 2013, after the attack by al-Shabaab on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Interpol’s then-secretary general gave a remarkable interview to ABC News. Pondering the idea of an armed citizenry, Ronald Noble said, “Ask yourself: If that was Denver, Colo., if that was Texas, would those guys 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.”
He went on to say, “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?’”
After the Paris attacks, the question I heard on every news network was “How do we prevent these attacks from taking place in the future?” The scary truth is that we can’t. There is no way to thwart every plot from every terrorist cell, or to stop every lone wolf from acting according to his ideology or insanity. There is no way to harden every soft target. What we can do, though, is make ourselves harder targets.
Eric Dietz is the head of the Homeland Security Institute at Purdue University. He’s done remarkable work analyzing the impact that armed citizens can have in an active shooter situation, and he says that only two things stop these types of active shooter situations—locked doors and armed resistance.
Look, I know that carrying a gun for self-defense doesn’t make me invulnerable. I know that all the training in the world may not end up helping me if I’m the victim of a robbery, a killing spree or a terrorist act. But I also know that I have a human right to self-defense, and a right to keep and bear arms protected by the Second Amendment. Ultimately, it’s really simple. If someone is intent on taking my life, or the lives of those around me, I want the chance to fight back.