UPDATE: Reader Andrew Samet writes:

So you think that ordinary citizens armed with handguns would slow down a surprise attack by trained paramilitary forces armed with automatic weapons, grenades and who knows what else? I’m curious how you see that scenario playing out.

The way I see it, if terrorists such as these could rely on a “significant number” (and I don’t know what that means, exactly – 10 percent? 20 percent?) of their targets carrying guns, they wouldn’t bother taking hostages. They’d just slaughter everyone in sight. They might take a few hits, but they’d have planned for that, just like any army would.

10% is a significant number.  Even in places where concealed carry is high, it only amounts to 3% or so of the population.  Still, a large hotel has 2000 people in it — that’s 60 armed citizens vs. 20 terrorists.  The terrorists have shock, but after the shooting starts, it is no longer surprise.  Surprise (which is different from shock) is on the side of the citizens.  The terrorists don’t know which citizens are armed.

The most important part of that is that it makes hostage taking impossible.  Every person taken hostage has to be searched.  Whoever is doing the searching cannot watch the other potential hostages at the same time.  If he tries to search someone who is armed, they are likely to try to kill him before he can find the weapon.  While he is busy searching someone ahead of them, they are going to attack the person guarding them by surprise.

And armed citizenry has never been credibly claimed to prevent these kinds of attacks.  What it does is make the results of these attacks less horrible and extensive and make the most horrible tactics (like hostage taking) unworkable.

Comments are closed.