Malls and Other “Soft” Targets

Kenyan officials are reporting that the hostages taken during the West Gate Mall attack last week were brutally tortured and killed in a variety of ways.  Kenya’s gun laws are exceptionally strict and there is no legal method to carry a weapon in public for self-defense (granted, that did not stop one former British soldier from doing just that – and that man saved more than 100 people from that killing zone).

Many malls in the US prohibit lawful concealed carry either by policy or because their insurance providers tell them that they must for some reason or another.

Imagine this.  You’re walking between Sears and Macy’s at your local mall. You can smell the wonderful blissful smell of freshly baked pretzels wafting your way from Auntie Ann’s and the hear the ppsssh of an espresso machine at Starbucks next door.  You see a trio of teenage girls walking the opposite way giggling about some boy or another.  A family of four – a dad and mom and two kids – pause briefly outside the doorway of a store.  You glance away and hear a loud bang, followed by a few more and then shouting – it’s chaos quickly – within seconds the trio of girls is lying on the ground screaming in pain and blood is pooling around them.  A half dozen more go down quick.  You dive behind a trash can and hope that whoever is shooting didn’t see you, but you risk a glance out to see if you need to move.  Two men – you can’t tell if they’re Arabic, Mexican, or just really tan, but they’re shouting something at the crowd of people.  One of them raises his rifle and fires into the ceiling a burst.  You have nowhere to go.

Now, let’s diverge from our little fantasy and just ask a hypothetical.  The family you noticed… that’s my family.  Now let’s make it more interesting… let’s say my wife is out with friends or home sick and it’s me and two kids.  I can’t scoop both boys up and run very fast…. but I can shove them into the store and tell them to hide.  Now here’s the question every mall owner and manager needs to ask themselves today: could you, personally, live with yourself knowing that the father in this story could be armed and defend his children and by default every other person there or would you rather insist on maintaining your precious fantasy of a world where a sign or a policy is enough to avert a tragedy?

Now another question about those signs… do you ever go faster than the speed limit?  And you expect those signs to keep your precious “property” safe?  Don’t be delusional.

I pray to never find myself in that scenario, but I know this – the quickest and most assured way to protect your property is to allow your patrons the right to protect themselves with every legal means at their disposal.  A terrorist attack like what happened in Kenya will happen in the United States some day.  That is a fact.  How bad that attack is will be determined by how quickly the attackers face return fire.

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