Each generation is confronted with unique challenges that must be resolved in unique ways. My parent’s generation was faced with the Depression, WWII and the Cold War. Our generation has been gifted with illegal immigration, Islamic terrorism, and mass shootings. Each of these requires a customized response.
Illegal immigration and Islamic terrorism are the easiest to deal with, strange as that may seem. Illegal immigration is a threat that can be resolved via updating and enforcement of our immigration laws, building the wall, and bringing pressure to bear on Mexico to do its part. Islamic terrorism can be controlled using our extensive intelligence apparatus. We have been successful in preventing numerous attacks to the homeland by smoking out the terrorists in advance. President Trump’s ban on immigration from selected Middle Eastern countries shows that he understands the dynamic. Ironically, Trump is the only public figure who has been willing to tell the truth about the connection between Islam and terrorism. During Obama’s watch, we were vulnerable to Islamic terrorism because Obama’s solution was to pretend that it didn’t exist. It has been suggested that the terror nightmare in Orlando could have been prevented if Obama had not censored the Department of Homeland Security from acknowledging the existence of a threat. Gathering information about the terror networks is a proven method of prevention.
The more complicated challenge is the rash of mass shootings such as those in Dayton, Gilroy, and El Paso. As Trump has suggested, “We must stop the glorification of violence in our society.” Is it worth asking if our culture has a propensity for murder? Are violent movies and video games responsible? Does America have a monopoly on gun violence? France had more casualties from mass shootings in 2015 than the U.S. suffered during Obama’s entire presidency. That should not detract from the fact that our numbers are alarming.
Many believe that the way to stop mass murders is to figure out the psychology behind them. “We must do a better job of identifying and acting on early warning signs,” says the president. If we can determine why mass murderers do it, we can attempt to identify the killers in advance and prevent the atrocities before they occur. As a practical matter, this approach is useless. It certainly would be nice to understand the motivation of mass murderers, but that knowledge will not allow us to identify the perpetrators in time to prevent the killings. We can’t arrest people because they fit a certain profile or because they have exhibited violent tendencies. If we did that, we would violate every principle of our legal system.
The other solution, embraced by the Left, is gun control. If possession of firearms is illegal, we are told, the would-be mass murderer will be unable to carry out his lethal intentions. This approach would be as successful as Prohibition in the 1920s. Only law-abiding citizens are affected by gun control. If an evil-doer wants to get his hands on a firearm, gun control is not going to stop him. Background checks are a good idea but are of dubious value when it comes to identifying potential mass murderers. One of the top ten states with the most restrictive gun laws in the country is Illinois, where last year there were 650 murders in Chicago alone. In Maryland, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, Baltimore had 343 murders last year and has the highest per capita murder rate in the nation.
So what is the answer? Should we increase the number of police? That wouldn’t work either as law enforcement can’t be everywhere. The only workable solution is to maintain an armed citizenry. Millions of Americans have served in the armed forces, where they were taught the use of firearms. Expanding the issuance of carry permits to these individuals and others with weapons training will have two practical consequences. First, the would-be mass murderer will be reluctant to act out if he believes that armed citizens are omnipresent. Second, even if he is not deterred, the amount of damage he can do will be reduced when armed citizens are able to return fire. The notion of an armed citizenry is as old as the republic. An example is retold in the popular John Ford western, The Searchers, where civilians are recruited to form a posse. Arming civilians is a tried and true American idea. That’s why we have the Second Amendment.
While expanded concealed carry permits would not guarantee an end to mass killings, they represent the only solution that has a possibility of success. In response to the desire of citizens to protect themselves against increased violence, proposals of “sanctuary cities” for carry permits are springing up in places like Oregon, California, Utah, Iowa, and Pennsylvania. For those who fear that allowing carry permits would increase violent crimes, bear in mind that Switzerland, with one of the lowest murder rates in the world, requires each citizen to own and maintain a firearm after their period of compulsory military service. That is exactly what we should do.
Ed Brodow is a political commentator, negotiation expert, and author of seven books including his latest, Tyranny of the Minority: How the Left is Destroying America.