Terror in Paris

Paris is once again the victim of terrorist attacks in three incidents involving shootings, explosions, and hostage taking. At this point, we have few details on the perpetrators, but at least twenty-six are reported to have been killed. As I’m writing this, NPR’s All Things Considered reported that the number is now at least sixty.

Who is responsible? Many reading this news have surely jumped to the conclusion that is all too probable these days, some terrorist group identifying itself as Islamic. That presumption is inescapable, and it’s a safe bet that the facts will bear it out (as of publishing, ISIS has claimed responsibility). What conclusion are we able to draw? Adding this incident to the train attack last August, and the shootings at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, adding all of those to a long list of terrorist assaults of this century, I have to wonder if we are not currently engaged in a slow-boil World War III.

It’s hard to contemplate this, especially for someone who lived through the end of the Cold War and who hopes that Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker is correct when he claims in his book, Better Angels of Our Nature, that violence has been on the decline for centuries, thanks to the forces of democracy, education, international agreements, and acceptance of individual rights. Pinker does discuss Islamic terrorism, pointing out that those forces for good have not yet entered much of the Muslim countries—thanks, I would add, to their governments and to the lingering effects of the world being divided between capitalism and communism and our dependence on oil. But we appear to be holding ourselves on the borders of war, a conflict simply put between civilization and barbarism.

We who value gun rights have one answer to this. As the attempted mass killing on the French train or at the art exhibit in Garland, Texas illustrate, good people have to be ready to bring what Jeff Cooper called much more violence against the terrorist than he can possibly enjoy. As United Flight 93 warns us, we have no guarantee of surviving the confrontation, but we can save other lives and give an emphatic no to brutes who regard us as too soft to fight back.

As I’ve often said, if we do value the right to own and carry effective tools for responding to criminal violence and terrorism, we have to value all rights. One aspect of this is the rights of women. Every day that our nation does not state to the world and to Muslim countries in particular that hiding women under yards of cloth, denying them education, denying them the ability to drive and to work, and generally treating them as property is a moral wrong is a day that we have failed to do our duty.

Some might say that we have to pull back, either because our resources are strained or because we have no national interest in the troubled areas of the world. This is wishful thinking. Ravenous barbarism does not feel sated when ground is given away. Its hunger only grows. The good people of this world can stand together, or we can be taken down one at a time.

We must offer a choice. We will be open with nations and people who are willing to adopt the standards of civilization. But as individuals and as the whole of the United States, we have to be ready to fight to the death anyone who prefers violence against innocents. Advocates of gun rights for the most part already understand this. I hope more and more in this country who have believed that disarming is the answer will come to see that the offer of peace is only meaningful when that offer is made from a position of strength. The hand of friendship that does not have an available sword is only grasping at straws.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.