An Armed Citizenry Can Frustrate and Deter Vehicle Attacks

The Islamist terror attack in Nice France, carried out by a jihadist in a heavy truck, should be yet another blow to the Democrat gun control movement in the U.S., and an indictment of the Euro-socialist model of government that the left adores.   

First and most obviously, the attacker used a commonly available, useful, but potentially dangerous tool to slaughter many more people than his fellow jihadist in Orlando managed with firearms.  Are we to ban heavy trucks now?  It is probable that some Islamist nutcase in America will try to imitate his French co-religionist.  When that occurs will President Obama bewail the availability of heavy trucks—easier to rent from U-Haul than buying a book?

There is another aspect of this tragedy that undercuts the gun controllers as well.  France is one of the world’s most restrictive nations when it comes to ownership of firearms, yet saw its people helplessly victimized by an armed (the driver also apparently carried a pistol though seemingly without effect) and brutal attacker without effective recourse, despite enhanced security efforts in the country.  If such an event happened in some parts of America, particularly in a state that doesn’t unreasonably restrict the right to carry, there at least would be a significant possibility that a civilian on the scene could stop or at least mitigate the attack.

Of course, gun controllers will argue this is mere fantasy and that armed civilians would not and could not stop a runaway jihadist in a truck.  Except that we have very good evidence that this can happen from many incidents in Israel.  Several years before the latest “knife intifada” Palestinian-Arab terrorists launched a similar series of attacks with vehicles (with bulldozers being a favorite) much like the Nice attack. And they continue to occasionally attempt this type of attack.  Although many Israelis have been killed and injured in these attacks, they are frequently frustrated by armed citizens, resulting in little more than dead Arab jihadist drivers. 

I discussed these attacks and many others involving armed civilians a few years ago in Counter-Terror Magazine.  The long and short of it is that even though Israel has strict gun control laws there are many armed citizens out about at all times, as anybody that has visited the country can testify to. Some of these are on-duty soldiers, but many others are off-duty troops, reservists going to or from depots, a large number of armed civilian security guards, ordinary civilians permitted to carry in certain areas, some public transit and tour bus drivers, and other civilians who served in combat units and can more easily acquire firearms permits. 

The net result of this is that a jihadist attacker in Israel, whether armed with a vehicle, knife or a firearm, is unlikely to last long.  Attacks frequently occur, but they are also usually frustrated, almost always with fewer casualties than we see in attacks in other countries, or no casualties at all. Most of these attacks are not even published in the foreign press.  When foreign reporters do comment, it is often to lament the disproportionate number of dead Palestinians to Israelis, in the perverse dance of moral equivalency that the leftist media and politicians engage between slain murderers and their victims.   

Specifically, in the case of the bulldozer (or front-end loader) attacks on Israelis a few years ago, at least two were ended by armed civilians or off duty soldiers, while most other attacks have been thwarted or shortened by police or on-duty soldiers.  The U.S. doesn’t have anything like the number of armed police, paramilitary border police, and armed soldiery in and around its cities as Israel does.  But we do have millions of armed civilians who could foil or mitigate such attacks in such a situation.  And for those that will say that a civilian with a typical concealed carry handgun (of say modest size and caliber) could not stop a terrorist in a truck, take a look at the video showing the conclusion of the attack in Nice, where police engage the attacker with handguns, likely little different from what many citizens carry in America today. At the very least they could put out a tire, distract or injure the driver, or otherwise reduce the likely deadliness of such an attack. 

After the Nice attack, residents booed French officials and complained that the government had not done enough to protect them.  This despite the fact that France has been in a state of emergency since last year’s attacks in Paris.  That emergency order was slated to expire in two weeks until the recent attack.  Despite massive deployments of troops and police French security services are still unable to prevent such mass casualty attacks by Islamic militants.

Israel and the United States, perhaps uniquely among modern Western democracies, and for different reasons, possess a better ability to deter and frustrate such attacks.

France for all its centralized police forces, massive internal military deployments, and draconian gun control law is now beset by a violent Islamist onslaught against a mostly cowed and defenseless population, with jihadist attackers causing heavy civilian losses at every turn.  And this, along with open immigration and a stagnated state dominated economy is the model that Obama, Hillary Clinton and the Democrat party would have the United State emulate.  That seems to be a pretty good model for Republicans to run against.

If you experience technical problems, please write to