Extremism Begetting Extremists

On Sunday, May 3, 2015, two extremist Islamic sympathizers from Phoenix, Arizona tried to enter an exhibit of Mohammad caricatures in Garland, Texas sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative.  The group, led by anti-Muslin extremist Pamela Geller, believes that “Islam” is trying to take over America. It seems that in America, one good extremist deserves another!

Aside from the free speech issues and respect for others’ religious beliefs, my astonishment stems from the audacity of the Islamic jihadis to attack a group of potentially and likely armed Texas citizens. After all, according to some gun advocates, isn’t a well-armed citizenry supposed to deter these attempts at mass murder?

I cannot count how many times I have heard this refrain. After the Aurora, Colorado theater mass shooting and the mass murder at Virginia Tech and the Sandy Hook Elementary School slaughter, countless arguments by the NRA and its partisans dominate the media. If only the professors and teachers and theater attendants had side arms, “bad guys” would not dare carry out their nefarious plans.

I do not believe that I am misrepresenting the argument. I am used to misrepresentation in the gun debate. Incessant calls from extremist gun owners constantly try to associate common sense gun control measures with an absolutist position of eliminating all gun ownership. Most gun control advocates do not want to ban all guns or even very many. That would be a losing battle. But that does not stop the shrill screams from gun extremists trying to smear any practical measure to limit gun use. Lumping together common sense gun control measures with the desire of a few to ban gun ownership serves a very useful rhetorical purpose. It makes all gun control supporters seem like extremists.

The greatest affront to common sense emanating from the gun advocate side is the arming of large numbers of citizens in any context to deter mass murderers. As any military man would tell you, the element of surprise can level the odds in any violent engagement. Regardless of well-armed “good guys,” an extremist bent on mayhem can kill a lot of people.

To take an extreme example (since we are on the subject of extremists), some extreme gun advocates want to be able to carry weapons onto aircraft. Using the argument of the extremists, if everyone on an aircraft had a gun, all of the passengers would be safer.  No airport detectors and screeners required. Now that would do wonders for airplane security and the comfort level of the passengers!  I admit I have chosen an extreme example; see, wasn’t that easy.

Leaving extremism aside, the element of surprise can be a decisive factor in any violent engagement, military or otherwise. That is why the Texas confrontation between the extremists came as no surprise. Fanatics obsessed with destruction will overpower superior firepower when initiating the confrontation without the knowledge of armed defenders. It is ironic that the American Freedom Defense Initiative hired Texas law enforcement personnel to guard the event and that it was the law enforcement personnel that stopped the intruders.  The potentially well-armed civilians inside did not deter the jihadis. And I am sure that this example will not deter extremist gun advocate and their arguments. People usually believe what they what to believe, regardless of evidence to the contrary.