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We must be prepared for domestic terrorism

Published August 11. 2012 09:01AM

Recently, there has been an upsurge in the number of mass murders committed by lone gunmen. Americans are a peace loving people who strive to work hard, raise their families and support their communities. The recent mass shooting in a Colorado movie theater was particularly upsetting as it is difficult to avoid a shooter in a crowded theater. This was quickly followed by another killing spree in a Sikh Temple. There are plenty of nut jobs running around with guns intent on making a name for themselves by killing more people than the last executioner did. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent these situations without imposing serious restrictions on the general public.

It takes time for the police to respond to an emergency call. Even in a large city like Philadelphia, it will take 10 to 15 minutes for the police to respond in force. In smaller communities and rural areas it can take even longer. In the time it takes for the police to arrive and deploy, recent events tell us that a well-prepared killer can execute over 20 people and wound many others. The longer the response time, the more casualties there will be. So what are we to do?

The most important thing is to resist the calls for gun control. If we make it illegal to possess guns, only criminals will have them. The gun-control movement has been very vocal about the need to take away or limit our Second Amendment rights. Without the right to bear arms, we are helpless against criminals who wish to invade our homes, our theaters and our places of worship to murder, steal and plunder. Restricting gun ownership is the wrong solution and patriots must vehemently resist any attempt to infringe on our right to bear arms.

In my opinion, only armed citizens can provide a quick response to halt a massacre. In Pennsylvania, citizens of legal age without a criminal record or mental disabilities can apply for a right to carry permit. In many counties, the permit can be issued while you wait! The Sheriff's Department accepts applications, scrutinizes them and runs a thorough background check on the applicant as part of the process. When the application is granted, the applicant is provided with a picture identity card that authorizes them to carry a concealed weapon.

In Pennsylvania, a person 18 years of age or older who is not prohibited by law from owning a firearm can openly carry a weapon provided it is visible. It is not legal to open carry in a car or in a city of the first class such as Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. If you want to carry a weapon in a city of the first class or in a vehicle, you must have a concealed carry permit. Several of my friends and acquaintances have concealed carry permits and carry a gun most of the time. I was actually surprised when I discovered that a couple of my friends, who I believed were anti-gun left wing liberals, had concealed carry permits and regularly carried their weapon! It is obvious that they, like me, do not want to be a victim. It is clear that most Americans agree with the right to bear arms and some have decided to legally do so on a regular basis.

Anyone who has a weapon has a responsibility to know how and when to use it. Fortunately for us, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and local gun clubs offer classes geared to men, women and children. It teaches them proper techniques to handle a weapon, how to improve shooting skills and most importantly, it teaches them to use the weapon only as a last resort. The NRA's Eddie Eagle program teaches children what to do should they discover a firearm. They have several videos available and also make school visits to ensure that children do not touch the weapon and immediately inform an adult. They even have a catchy cartoon that explains the dangers to preschoolers. (

The Department of Homeland Security funded a video explaining the steps to be taken when confronted by a mass killer. This is one government-sponsored program I can definitely agree with. According to the video, your first response should be to run away from the scene of the crime. Then find a good hiding place. Lastly they recommend attacking the shooter with whatever weapons are available to you. This can be a chair, a coat rack, or if you are lucky enough to have a carry permit, a gun. In the video, the potential victims do not have a gun. This is the reality that innocent victims face. Most corporations have rules that prevent law-abiding citizens from carrying guns at work. Therefore you must be prepared to use whatever is at hand to stop the shooter and save your life as well as the lives of your fellow employees.

Please take a few moments to watch this video. ( Also view the videos near the bottom of the web page concerning Improvised Explosive Devices. I suggest you forward the videos to your Human Resources Department at work so that they can include it in their disaster preparedness training programs. After watching the video, consider how you would incorporate the demonstrated techniques into your daily life. What would you do if a shooter went on a rampage in the grocery store, theater, shopping mall or at a sporting event? For those with families, it would be useful to share the video with family members and discuss how your family will protect each other when a shooting disaster occurs.

While I have promoted the right to legally carry in this article, I do not want or expect anyone to stand up and start shooting at a mass murderer. Instead you should run and hide. Escaping the scene is the best option. If you are legally carrying a weapon, I believe that you should not use it unless you have no other choice and you are certain that you have a clear line of fire. Having multiple shooters on the scene will only confuse the police. Above all else, remember the Boy Scout and Girl Scout motto, Be Prepared! It is sad that the world has come to this, that Americans must be prepared for a mad gunman on a killing spree in a public area.

It is definitely a new world that we live in, one where Americans live in fear of their lives as they go about their daily business. Between 1969 and 1978, the Provisional Irish Republican Army was responsible for bombings and assassinations in the United Kingdom. The British developed many good techniques to identify and properly respond to civilian terrorist events. Major campaigns to alert the British public on the best methods to identify and report unusual activities worked to reduce the impact of terrorist activities. In Great Britain, there are signs everywhere warning about what to do if you notice unattended packages or unusual characters hanging around public places. I believe it is time to implement the British program here. In our Brave New World, we must be prepared for the mad shooters and the terrorists. There is no returning to the days before Columbine, the Colorado Theater and the Sikh massacres!

© 2012 Gordon Smith - All Rights Reserved

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