Soft Targets and Hard Choices

Copyright 2004 Steven L. Van Dyke, all rights reserved

Lately I've been thinking some pretty uncomfortable thoughts. When the 2004 Election season was heading into its final days we heard a lot of talk about terrorism and Homeland Security. Allow me to ramble just a bit and I think I can explain my thoughts on these matters.

Here in Missouri we recently became the 45th state to allow concealed carry (CCW). This means that the person next to you at the video store might be legally armed (not that a lot of them weren't armed before, they just weren't doing it legally). But you don't have to worry that the person sitting next to you at the pro ball game, or in a government building is legally armed. There's a whole list of places you can't legally carry in Missouri, including any one that puts an 11x14 inch sign with letters at least 1 inch high at the door. These are what are referred to as "Gun Free Zones" (GFZ).

The problem, of course, is that the only guns they're free of are the legal ones. Criminals, by definition, are people who break the law. Expecting them to obey a 'no guns' sign works as well as putting up a 'no stealing' sign. That's why GFZs have another name in some circles - soft targets. A soft target is just what it sounds like - an easy score. Why do crooks like to rob older people? It's not because they've got more money, it's because it's easier to do. For them a 'No Guns' sign means they'll be the only ones armed.

Terrorists are even worse, in just about every way. They seldom take on military targets because soldiers can and will shoot back. Over in Iraq they do things like roadside bombs and mortars - things that let them stay safely out of sight. But in most places the terrorist's task is easier. All they have to do is pick a soft target.

Airplanes are a assured soft target - that's why they've long been a terrorist favorite. Sure, it's a little tougher to get a weapon on board due to the screenings, but obviously possible. And when they do get their weapons on board, well, the authorities have done their best to make sure you have no way to defend yourself - not even a nail file.

Even more chilling are incidents like the Russian theater siege and the Beslan School massacre.

Israel realized the risk of soft targets long ago and took steps. Teachers in Israel are encouraged to carry concealed weapons and the terrorists know it. That's why they don't attack schools in Israel - Israeli schools are hard targets, with an unknown number of people prepared to fight to the death to protect the children. Imagine what would have happened in Beslan if a number of parents and teachers had been armed. It would still have been a terrible, terrible situation, but I doubt they would have been able to herd over 350 families into the gym to be slaughtered.

Here in the U.S.A. we worry more about our neighbors than terrorists. School and workplace shootings are something anti-gun people like to bring up. What they don't like to bring up is the fact that these events are almost always stopped only when another armed person shows up - something the mainstream media deliberately avoids talking about.

Imagine what our Homeland Security would be like if we had and encouraged a Nationwide Concealed Carry. We'd be back to a time like WWII when the Japanese military told the politicians "You cannot invade America. There is a rifle behind every blade of grass."

So the next time you go past one of those 'no guns' signs, or step into a government building, or drop your children off at school, take a moment to ask yourself if you really feel safer knowing that only the bad guys will have guns in there.

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