A horrific terrorist attack at the Bastille Day fireworks show in Nice, France occurred today. If we are to stop such attacks in the future, there are lessons that must be learned.
The Nice, France terrorist attack on July 14, 2016
A terrorist drove a large truck through a crowd of people who had gathered to watch the Bastille Day fireworks in Nice, France. At the time that I write this article, over 80 people have been confirmed killed, with over 100 more injured (and the death toll will almost certainly continue to rise). Reports say that the terrorist was able to drive through the crowd for over 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) before the truck came to a halt. The terrorist driving the truck reportedly then opened fire on the crowd, before finally being shot and killed by the police. Numerous guns, ammunition, and grenades were later found in the truck. News reports have identified the deceased terrorist as Mohamad Lahouaiej Bouhel, a 31 year old Tunisian-born man who emigrated to France.
Lessons to be learned
Gun control doesn’t work. France has strict gun control laws, which failed to stop this terrorist from having guns and hand grenades. Those same gun control laws failed to stop the November 13, 2015 terrorist attack in Paris, France too. Indeed, strict gun control laws fail all around the world, for the simple reason that criminals who want guns can smuggle them in to the country, steal guns from the police, or simply manufacture their own guns. Criminals, being criminals, will always find ways to circumvent laws that ban guns, as we have seen time and time again.
Many other tools can be used to kill. Here, the terrorist was able to kill over 70 people using a truck. That is more people than have been killed in any mass shooting in the USA (The Pulse shooting is the record in the USA, with 49 victims). The ability to cause death and destruction is largely a function of energy, as energy is what it takes to cause injury. Modern machinery such as trucks allow large amounts of energy to be directed in a controlled fashion. When it is a normal truck driver, that can get goods to a store. When it is a terrorist, that energy is used to kill. Our modern way of life requires copious amounts of energy, and so trucks and other tools that can be misused to kill are not going anywhere.
The police cannot respond in time. Here, just like in every other mass murder, the police could not intervene in time to stop the killer. Indeed, this terrorist was able to drive through the crowd for nearly 2 minutes, mowing down victim after victim with his truck. The police did eventually respond, but by then it was too late for dozens upon dozens of people. Even the swiftest action on the part of the police is not swift enough when seconds are the difference between life and death.
Armed citizens can and do stop terrorists. As we have seen in many terrorist attacks including this one, gun bans did not prevent the terrorist from being armed. Those bans did ensure that that the victims and bystanders were without the ability to stop the terrorist. Instead of stopping the terrorist like this Israeli did, or like this other Israeli did, the victims in France were defenseless. Armed citizens stop violent criminals routinely, while unarmed citizens are routinely slaughtered.
France has suffered multiple terrible attacks at the hands of terrorists over the last few years. I certainly hope that the French government – and all governments – do the right thing and allow their citizens to be armed for self defense, so that the next terrorist attack can be stopped before more families are in mourning.