To Arms?

What we’ve seen in Paris this weekend is not an attack, or an incident, or a tragedy. It’s war, and war, like it or not, is fought with guns. Because terrorism works precisely by striking at random, it’s silly to expect the police to be able to protect everyone at all times. When there are men out there teaming up to kill you, the rational and prudent thing to do is to at least make sure you have a chance to fight back.

Source: What Happened in Paris is War, and the Only Way to Fight a War is With Firearms. If You Live in Europe, Get a Gun. – Tablet Magazine

Food for thought.

Let me say up front that I don’t think you end terrorism simply by arming your populace. Terrorist use a range of weapons and tactics, and a pistol – even a .45 – won’t stop them all.

But it is pitifully easy for a terrorist to acquire a gun, even in countries where private ownership of firearms is strictly circumscribed. All a terrorist need do to inflict dozens of casualties is to find someplace with no cops, release the safety, and open fire.

Let us, for the moment, ignore the author’s overt point and delve into his meta-message: in a war against an enemy able to bypass formal national and civil defenses to inflict casualties against the populace, government monopoly on the ownership of firearms is inadequate and perhaps indefensible.

At the very least, this opens the door for auxiliary and private security forces, with trained and licensed personnel, to carry firearms. Would the Copenhagen attacks have succeeded if Dan Uzan had been armed while standing watch outside the synagogue? What if the guards at the Bataclan had been packing, and had known what to do when trouble showed up toting AK-47s?

France, much less Europe, is not ready for an armed populace. They probably won’t be until we in America can find a better way to retain our firearms as a bulwark against tyranny while eliminating accidental deaths and curtailing gun homicides. Accidental gun deaths in the US last year claimed five times more lives than the terrorists did in Paris last weekend, and that alone inveighs against just selling a gun to every man-Jacques in the street.

But the asymmetrical threat of terror demands asymmetrical responses that, if nothing else, raises the difficulty and cost of terrorist acts. Armed protection in public gathering places is a good start.

But the real issue is that it is time for the leaders of Europe to stop relying upon time-honored tools forged to meet different threats. It is time to get creative and a little ruthless, to come up with ways to make terror too costly for ISIS to imagine. And the answer is not airstrikes. How many more innocents must die before Europe truly understands that armies, police, constraints on speech, and appeasement of Islamists do not constitute a defense against the most serious threat Europe faces today?

 

The Story We’re Forgetting in Garland

Jihadists More Repulsive than Pam Geller | Commentary Magazine.

Pam Geller and her tactics sicken me.

However, Peter Wehner has a cogent point underneath this provocative headline: we have somehow forgotten (or ignored) the fact that this was a terrorist attack on homeland soil. Yes, Geller made herself, her guests, and the people protecting them huge targets.

While we quite correctly condemn Ms. Geller as a McCarthyite hate-monger, why are we not outraged that there appear to be armed Islamists wandering free in America looking for something juicy to attack?

When is the Internet like Any Other Media?

“Public outcry forces FEC Democrats to junk bid to regulate Internet, Drudge”
Paul Bedard
Washington Examiner
May 21, 2015 

Let’s set aside for a moment the possibility that Democratic appointees on the Federal Elections Commission may in fact have the knives out for conservative bloggers and internet sites. I think that is a real possibility, but there is a larger issue at stake.

Is there a legal case to be made that at some point websites that are focused on influencing the political process should be made to disclose their funding? If there is, where is that line drawn? If there is not, then why must other media disclose?

The problem, really, is not about FEC Dems vs. FEC Republicans. It is about establishing the principle on which we demand transparency from anyone who engages in political speech. That principle must be applied fairly, consistently, and in keeping with both Federal election statutes and the constitution.

Anything else is so much partisan nonsense.

CVS and Sandtown

Will CVS Rebuild Their Looted Store? – The Daily Beast.

It would be nice if CVS rebuilt a the store in Baltimore that was trashed by rioters earlier this month. It would be a fine gesture on the part of a large corporation that it was not holding the entire neighborhood responsible for the behavior of miscreants.

On the other hand, we should not blame them if they decide not to do so. If anything has become clear in the last few weeks, it is that the depiction of the city of Baltimore in the long-running HBO series the wire may be dark, but it seems Pollyannish in comparison to the reality.

This is not about the inexcusable behavior of the rioters. It is not about the hard, penetrating questions that need to be asked about the Baltimore cops and systemic brutality of practices like “rough rides.” It is not about the dysfunction that seems to permeate city government.

It is about all of those things put together.

I am not suggesting that CVS sit back and await the gentrification of Sandtown before it ventures back in. What it should do, if it really wants to make a difference, is say “we want to go back into Sandtown bigger than ever. But we are not going to do it until this city starts taking care of the problems that the residents themselves have been complaining about for years.”

Building a pharmacy in the heart of a blighted neighborhood is, possibly, a good thing. Building a pharmacy while pursuing a coherent approach to removing the blight is an unquestionable public good.

Book of the Week: Rise of the Warrior Cop

Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces
Radley Balko 

PublicAffairs; July 2013;
400pp Hardcover.

Given the events in Ferguson, it is clear that the time has come for us all to understand how our Boys in Blue are being turned into stormtroopers.

Balko is not one of those reporters who can be readily dismissed as a left-wing cop-baiter. His research has been widely praised, and he started his career at the libertarian Cato Institute. If anything, he is more right than left.

But that should not be the point. The problem is that supporting law and order does not mean giving the cops a blank check, any more than supporting business means giving the Fortune 500 or Wall Street unfettered reign over the nation.

Balko makes the case that we have done the former, and it is time to change course before it is too late. The events in Ferguson only make his point more timely, more poignant, and more urgent.