George Jonas is one of Canada’s truly bright lights in journalism. He really calls it in this article in Canada’s National Post, arguably the only major newspaper in Canada that isn’t trying to sell Canada’s ‘official mandatory culture’. Before I post this article there is a development that I think needs to be reported. India was accused of violating Pakistani air space twice today, December 12th in two separate areas of the Pakistani Indian border. Pakistan has downplayed the incident but India is denying it took place. this is likely pressure by India on its nuclear neighbor Pakistan because the token arrests and changes in policy towards terrorist groups are never enforced for long. Terrorists who are arrested for crimes against India etc. are released as soon as no one is looking and the incarceration usually looks more like Club Med than Club Fed.
Stratfor sources have said that Pakistan, under pressure from both India and the United States, has removed several dozen operatives from Inter-Services Intelligence. However, Islamabad has refused to hand over any Pakistani nationals to India. Furthermore, India does not trust that Pakistan is willing and/or able to rein in militant Islamists. This is because Islamabad has arrested such actors and banned militant Islamist groups in the past, only to allow them return to business as usual.
This situation, along with domestic pressure, is forcing the Indian government’s hand and pushing it toward taking unilateral military action against Pakistani-based militants. That said, New Delhi is concerned that any conflict with Pakistan could worsen security for India and in the broader region. Trying to balance between the need to act and the need to exercise caution, New Delhi likely ordered the incursions as a means to sustain the pressure to shape Pakistani behavior
Lastly I would like to add that Pamela Geller’s speculation, which is in no way confirmed, that the police in Mumbai who had a clear shot at a terrorist and did not take it (this much is true) were Muslims may factor in to the severity of the Mumbai attacks. I would very much like to know if its true. If it is, it only makes the point in the article below more valid.
On to the Jonas article…
The terrorist attacks in Mumbai last month claimed some 500 casualties, dead and injured. Among the many questions raised by the outrage, there was a purely practical one: Why was the attack so successful? How could so few terrorists claim so many victims?
One obvious answer is firepower. Guns were illegal in the hands of both the terrorists and the victims. The victims obeyed the laws, the terrorists didn’t. The police had guns, of course, but instead of protecting people, they stayed away until the massacre was practically over. Gun laws — surprise, surprise! — weren’t strong enough to defend victims, only strong enough to keep victims from defending themselves.
India’s gun control, one of the strictest in the world, goes back to the 19th century when Britain introduced it to forestall a repetition of the Indian Mutiny. “The guns used in last week’s Bombay massacre were all ‘prohibited weapons’ under Indian law,” wrote Richard Munday in the Times Online, “just as they are in Britain.” The terrorists were successful because they didn’t obey the gun control law rooted in the Raj, while their victims did.
India isn’t alone. Many countries, including Canada, have gone out of their way to make criminals as invincible and victims as vulnerable as possible. This isn’t the aim, of course, only the result.
“Guns don’t kill, people do.” The gun lobby’s old slogan is true enough, but it’s also true that guns make people more efficient killers. That’s why gun control would be such a splendid idea if someone could find a way to make criminals and lunatics obey it. Since only law-abiding citizens obey it, it’s not such a hot idea. It’s more like
trying to control stray dogs by neutering veterinarians.
The police carry guns for a reason: They’re great tools for law-enforcement. No doubt, guns make criminals more efficient, but they make crime-fighters more efficient, too. Letting firearms become the monopoly of lawbreakers, far from enhancing public safety, is detrimental to it. What you want is more armed people, not fewer, on the side of the law. It would be hard to imagine a Mumbai-type atrocity in Dodge City — or in Edwardian Europe, for that matter, where gentlemen routinely carried handguns for protection.
Some regard carrying guns uncivilized. I’d hesitate to call an era of legal guns in the hands of Edwardian gentlemen less civilized — or less safe — than our own era of illegal guns in the hands of drug dealers and terrorists. The civilized place was turn-of-the century London, where citizens carried guns and the police didn’t. In any event, a constitutional guarantee to one’s “security of person” shouldn’t depend on how fast a 911 operator can pick up the phone.
Society needs crime control, not gun control. Munday writes that “violent crime in America has plummeted” in the past two decades after the majority of states enacted “right to carry” legislation and issued permits to carry concealed weapons to citizens of good repute. I think there were many reasons for the decline, but “right to carry” certainly wasn’t detrimental to it.
There are Second Amendment absolutists in America, and libertarians elsewhere, who regard a person’s birthright to own/carry a firearm beyond the state’s power to regulate. I’m not one of them. I think it’s reasonable for communities to set thresholds of age, proficiency, legal status, etc., for the possession of lethal weapons, just as they set standards for the operation of motor vehicles, airplanes and ham radios. But it seems to me that, within common sense perimeters, you’d want to enhance, not diminish, the defensive capacity of the good guys, and increase rather than decrease the number of auxiliary crime-fighters who are available to be deputized when the bad guys start climbing over the fence.
Munday quotes no less an advocate of non-violence than Mahatma Gandhi on the imperial decree of the Indian Arms Act of 1878 that laid the foundation for the defenselessness of the victims of the Mumbai massacre 130 years later. “Among the many misdeeds of British rule in India,” said the Mahatma, “history will look upon the act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.”