Bangladesh hostage crisis a lesson on fighting ISIS terrorism

News agencies are reporting that several hostages have been mistakenly killed by police after armed men set off bombs and took hostages in a restaurant in the diplomatic zone of Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka on July 1, 2016.  Sumon Reza, a member of the kitchen staff at the restaurant, says he witnessed the attackers carrying explosives, handguns, and swords, while shouting, “God is great.”

So here we go again.  What made the Orlando killer act is still being worked out, but attacks in San Bernardino, Garland, TX, and twice in Paris were clearly done out of an intersection of political and religious motivations and were indisputably examples of terrorism.

The State Department has issued an advisory to American citizens in Bangladesh to shelter in place and watch the news.  So far, they haven’t recommended using hot coffee or scissors if the attackers get too close. Given the controls on private ownership and carry of firearms in Bangladesh, though, such things are all that many people in the area would have available.

Bangladesh is not a particularly dangerous nation.  Its homicide rate is 2.56 per hundred thousand, but that hides targeted violence against religious minorities.  ISIS has claimed responsibility for the hacking to death of a Hindu priest in the capital, and multiple atheist bloggers have also been killed with machetes in recent years.

And yet, in attack after attack, governments tell us that it’s their job to keep people safe.  Advocates of gun control insist that terrorism is proof that we need to ban some guns and restrict access to many more, despite having the laws that they want in so many of the locations that have been attacked.  And we who carry guns legally get accused of being fearful for being prepared.

Fighting against groups that are willing to kill innocent human beings to forward their warped ideology has been going on for a long time, as residents of the Middle East, of the Indian subcontinent, of Europe generally and of Northern Ireland specifically can testify.  We in the United States, broadly speaking, felt relatively safe within our own borders until 9/11.  But the years since that attack have taught us that geography is no guarantee.  With that in mind, what do we do?

The first response is that everyone who is able to do so should learn how to operate firearms and how to carry them effectively and legally.  Sign up for a carry license class and bring your friends, if you and they haven’t done so already.  Several hundred thousand Americans defend themselves each year with firearms, and carry in public is easier than ever.

That latter fact is a trend that has been building since Florida changed its carry laws in the late 80s.  In the years following, more and more states have moved to a policy that anyone who passes a background check and a basic course have the ability to carry without having to explain why, and several have decided not to require permission at all.  We who support gun rights have won battle after battle, and as hard as things appear to be at present, we have to continue defending and expanding the exercise of rights.

Beyond these steps, the fight against extremist groups is effectively done by promoting the rights of women globally—educating them, supporting them in starting businesses, insisting on their ability to vote and to participate in government.  Just as we can find satisfaction when women in our military attack ISIS targets, we can achieve lasting victory against those who demand a fundamentalist theocracy by striking a blow at one of their central doctrines, the chattel status of women.

Extremism isn’t simple in its causes and won’t be defeated by simplistic solutions.  What will protect civilization against barbarism is our commitment to basic rights and to their continued exercise.

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

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