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Preventing Terrorist Attacks – You Can Help

Anyone with even moderate awareness recently will see that we have experienced a significant increase in terrorist attacks committed by one person only. (Another article will address the fact there is no such thing as a “lone wolf” attack by a Muslim terrorist. They are all behaving as Islam, not extremist Islam, dictates.) Far from occurring only outside the United States, a recent jihadi terrorist attack occurred on a law enforcement officer in the Flint, Michigan airport.

After this kind of attack there is the inevitable question about how it could have been prevented. Usually, the focus is on what intelligence agencies did or did not know, and how much prior interaction those agencies had with the attacker. Sometimes the intelligence agencies had compiled a dossier on the attacker, and sometimes they had not. In all cases, however, by definition, whatever the intelligence agencies knew was not sufficient for whatever reason to persuade them to take actions that prevented the attack.

So what can we do?

As the head law enforcement officer in my jurisdiction, I'm frequently asked how we can prevent such attacks. The people in my community, and the communities I visit, are concerned even if our government is not. Failures of the centralized intelligence agencies, primarily at the federal level, are obvious. However, that does not mean that we as individual citizens can do nothing. To the contrary, we all have a responsibility, and the ability, to help prevent terrorist attacks.

One thing we call can do is be aware and observant. I have said this before. You know what’s normal in your neighborhood and what’s not. I’m not talking about someone’s race, or color, or appearance. I’m talking about behavior. What are they doing? Where are they going? Have you ever seen them before? Are they loitering with no apparent purpose, or taking pictures of things that are of no interest to a tourist? Recognize this as suspicious, and report it. This enhances not only our terror-fighting capabilities, but law enforcement efforts in general.

Another hugely important step a responsible citizen can take is to remain armed. Given that it is not possible for law-enforcement officers to be everywhere at all times, responsibly armed and trained citizens can expand our safety net by thousands. This will act as a deterrent, and will also allow a properly trained citizen to defend himself or herself.

The effectiveness of an armed response in general was demonstrated in the London Bridge terror attacks, where armed police officers -- in a country where every police officer is not even armed -- responded and shot dead the attacker within eight minutes of the first emergency call. This was illustrated even closer to home by the Capitol Police and the Alexandria Police in their response to the shooting at the Republican Congressional baseball team practice, by killing the shooter.

Of course, I am not advocating for vigilantes who take the law into their own hands. This is often the hysterical response when someone advocates that a citizenry arm itself in accordance with its Second Amendment rights. We are blessed that our United States Constitution protects that right, and I believe it is one reason why we have not seen the volume of attacks here as in Europe. No one should have any doubt that my office, as well as every law enforcement officer in this country, is prepared to deal swiftly and decisively with reports that someone is using or threatening to use a firearm illegally.

No, what I am talking about is trained citizens who arm themselves responsibly. And I am prepared to back my suggestion up. The Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office offers free concealed carry classes to those who are eligible. Details of that training can be found on our website or by calling the Sheriff’s Office.

I urge all of us to remain aware and to be prepared. This is our best protection for ourselves, our families, and our communities.

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