Living in a free society makes a risk-free society impossible, yet national tragedies often compel us to deem an act of terrorism so horrible that government must go to any lengths necessary to “keep us safe.”
After 9/11, the federal government created a vast national security state the likes of which we’ve never seen in American history. Today, the Department of Homeland Security employs nearly a quarter million federal workers and is the largest government bureaucracy after the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Post-9/11, so-called security measures were hastily enacted by Congress or new powers assumed by the president that gave the federal government unprecedented abilities to keep tabs on citizens. Still, this monstrous federal bureaucracy was not able to prevent a man from boarding an airplane and attempting to detonate an “underwear bomb” on December 25, 2009. It was private citizens who stopped this would-be terrorist.
Still, how did the government react to the “Christmas Day bomber?” It increased its own authority to harass and intimidate innocent airport travelers via the TSA. The public backlash was widespread, but Americans shouldn’t have been surprised. The government’s answer to any crisis is always more government.
When alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner opened fire at a political event for Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords last week, it’s hard to imagine what kind of government initiative could have stopped this terrorist act. What kind of heavy-handed police state would we have to live under to prevent the possibility of an unpredictable shooting spree? Surveillance cameras on every street corner? Giving police inquiry and pat down powers similar to the TSA? Federalizing all law enforcement? It’s hard to imagine Americans standing for any of this or such measures successfully preventing random violent acts.
Yet in the wake of the Tucson shooting many politicians and pundits, particularly from the Left, immediately began calling for more government regulation in the form of gun control, harshly criticizing Arizona’s carry-and-conceal laws by which citizens are allowed to carry firearms in public. But if Tucson residents were burdened with stricter gun laws-similar to gun-free and still crime-ridden cities like Washington, D.C.-chances are Loughner would have been able to kill or injure even more people. Reported Examiner.com’s Gordon Clemmer: “Twenty-four year old Joe Zamudio quietly stood at the Safeway counter waiting to buy a pack of cigarettes as shots rang out in Tucson Arizona Saturday. As most followed their natural instinct to run to safety, Zamudio put his hand on his gun and ran towards the chaos. Zamudio was not an off-duty police officer nor did he possess military training, he was merely an Arizona resident who was legally carrying a concealed weapon who believed he could stop the carnage.”
In joining another man to tackle Loughner to the ground, Zamudio never had to use his weapon, but admits his ready access to it made him unhesitant in approaching the gunman. Said Zamudio to MSNBC’s Ed Schultz: “I was ready to end his life.” The very liberal Schultz, who began the interview by praising this man’s heroics, seemed taken aback by the overtly pro-gun rhetoric. Schultz asked Zamudio again if he was truly prepared to shoot Loughner. Zamudio replied “Damn right!”
In any other context, Zamudio’s forthright language would no doubt be part of liberal arguments for the “dire need” to increase gun control-that an American population filled with “hotheads” similar to Zamudio cries out for such regulation. Yet it was Zamudio’s fearlessness-aided by a readily available equalizer in the form of a pistol-that potentially saved countless lives on that tragic day in Tucson.
Zamudio’s example is better than instructive-it is integral to understanding that the most practical and perhaps only way to avoid future Loughners is to allow more citizens to carry firearms. We shouldn’t be condemning America’s gun culture. We should be encouraging it.
After 9/11 Congressman Ron Paul opposed the federalization of airport security, the creation of the DHS and increased police state measures, but did propose legislation that would allow airline pilots to begin carrying firearms in cockpits. It’s much harder for terrorists to commandeer an airplane when pilots can fight back. Most pilots agreed. No need to restructure society and take away freedoms-civilians’ odds against terrorists would be significantly be improved by simply allowing pilots this one new freedom.
Likewise, it will be much harder for future domestic terrorists of Loughner’s sort to open fire on the general public when that public has the means to fight back. Liberal fears of a more well-armed populace producing more gun violence have proved completely unfounded over the years, and in most carry-and-conceal states’ violent crime has either remained the same or slightly decreased.
After 9/11, our federal government exploded in the name of “keeping us safe,” but by its very nature, massive bureaucracy is inefficient and structurally unequipped to stop the rare individual who might commit a terrorist act. To the contrary, it has more often been an alert citizenry that has been far more reliable as a safeguard against terrorism, foreign or domestic. This will remain true for the foreseeable future.
American freedom dictates that we will never have a risk-free society. But taking away our 2nd amendment freedoms could certainly put us all at more risk.