Civilian self-defense essential to combat modern terrorism

The best intelligence will not be good enough and the most capable police force will not be able to fully protect the populace from terrorist attacks.

A man holding a gun. (photo credit: screenshot)
A man holding a gun.
(photo credit: screenshot)
Islamic terrorism has become a serious problem in Europe, and fighting it is very hard.
Of course not all Muslims are terrorists and of course terrorism emanates from a few individuals, while the vast majority are peaceful. However, acts of terrorism that shatter a population’s security and quality of life can be carried out by individuals, who are not necessarily backed by terrorist organizations.
The nice guy next door may suddenly and independently turn to terrorism; it is not possible to anticipate such decisions. Yet many in the West seem to believe that law enforcement and intelligence agencies can prevent the next murderous attack.
The best intelligence will not be good enough and the most capable police force will not be able to fully protect the populace from terrorist attacks. Intelligence agencies cannot trace each and every potential terrorist and police cannot be everywhere. The unfortunate reality is that not all terrorist attacks can be prevented.
The London Police deserve praise for their performance in the most recent London Bridge terrorist attack, and yet the number of people killed before the police managed to kill the terrorists was considerable, and frightening.
Europe’s approach to the problem, relying on intelligence and law enforcement to fight terrorism, neglects an extremely important dimension: civilian self-defense.
Among the civilian population there are qualified people who could bear arms responsibly. If only two people had been armed during the 2015 Bataclan massacre in Paris it would have changed completely the turn of events, and if one or two of the people in the restaurants near the London Bridge had had a gun, the number of victims in that attack would have been dramatically reduced.
Today, self-defense is an ultimate necessity in fighting terrorism. It will not deter terrorist attacks nor will it entirely prevent casualties – but it will certainly reduce the losses.
We have seen the proof of this on many occasions in Israel, where during many terrorist attacks it has been armed civilians that shot down the terrorists and ended the massacre.
I know many people object to the idea of arming civilians.
“Look what is going on in the US,” they say. But the model should not be the US, where any individual can purchase firearms, but rather Israel, where qualified individuals, on a selective basis, are granted permission to carry firearms.
Self-defense is an extremely important dimension of the fight against terrorism. People should not be helpless and defenseless, as this encourages terrorism. A self-defense mentality should be adopted in countries such as Britain, France and other Western nations chosen by terrorist organizations as arenas for mass murder.
The author is the president of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce.