And so it happens again. At the time of writing, 84 people are known to be dead, and an unknown number injured. The terrorist's weapon? A common-or-garden truck, the sort we see driving our roads in untold numbers every day. The gun the driver reportedly used to shoot out of his window is basically irrelevant. The vast majority of the casualties he inflicted were with his vehicle, not his firearm.
May those who were murdered in Nice rest in peace, and those who were injured recover as speedily and as fully as possible.
And yet again, the politicians - in France and elsewhere - will just talk about it. That's all they can do - talk. There's no nation state they can hold accountable for this atrocity, no country against whom they can declare war. This was a 'lone wolf' actor, motivated by his religious ideology, beholden to no other country to equip, prepare and train him.
And yet again, we note that if there'd been a person with a gun in the right place at the start of this terrorist rampage, it might have been stopped in its tracks. You scoff? You say that's nonsense, a fantasy? Then why do police so often shoot the driver of a vehicle who's trying to use it to ram them? They do so because it works. It stops the carnage, often before it starts. If, at the start of the killing, the cab of that truck had been within range of someone who knew how to use a firearm, and was carrying one that could penetrate a vehicle's glass or bodywork to reach the driver, the terror might have been stopped right there. Instead, because there was no-one within range who was armed (concealed carry being impossible for civilians under French law), the terrorist was able to drive well over a mile along a crowded boulevard, mowing down his victims one after another.
Now the blame game will start, and the finger-pointing, and the pontificating by politicians who'll talk up a storm, but not actually do anything. To be fair, part of that is that they can't do anything to stop the terrorists already in their midst. That stable door is wide open, and that horse is long gone. However, heaven forfend that people should be allowed to hold their political leaders accountable for their immigration and refugee policies, that have already admitted so many potential terrorists to their countries! The politicians will protest that they had to do so, in the name of humanity - can't you understand that? Their citizens, of course, don't understand that at all, because it's nonsense.
Just yesterday I noted the views of the chief of France's Directorate General of Internal Security, who warned that "it could just take one more major Islamist terror attack to lead to a huge right-wing backlash". Well, France has now endured that 'one more' attack - and I'm sure it won't be the last of its kind. Let's see if France also experiences the backlash he foretold.
As for this side of the Atlantic, I'm waiting for our more feckless politicians to propose a ban on 'assault trucks' and/or demand more stringent licensing of their drivers, complete with background checks.
For the rest of us, what can we do to protect ourselves against such attacks? Basically, there's only one way - don't be in places where such attacks are likely. I've warned about that before. This is yet another reminder. In this day and age, anywhere large numbers of people gather - particularly if those gatherings are deliberately disarmed as a matter of law, regulation or policy, so that those attending can't defend themselves or each other - is a potential target for terrorism. Unless you absolutely have to be there, don't.
I've quoted John Farnam's sage advice several times before. This is as good a time as any to repeat it.
The best way to handle any potentially injurious encounter is: Don’t be there. Arrange to be somewhere else. Don’t go to stupid places. Don’t associate with stupid people. Don’t do stupid things. This is the advice I give to all students of defensive firearms. Winning a gunfight, or any other potentially injurious encounter, is financially and emotionally burdensome. The aftermath will become your full-time job for weeks or months afterward, and you will quickly grow weary of writing checks to lawyer(s). It is, of course, better than being dead or suffering a permanently disfiguring or disabling injury, but the “penalty” for successfully fighting for your life is still formidable.
Crowds of any kind, particularly those with an agenda, such as political rallies, demonstrations, picket lines, etc are good examples of “stupid places.” Any crowd with a high collective energy level harbors potential catastrophe. To a lesser degree, bank buildings, hospital emergency rooms, airports, government buildings, and bars (particularly crowded ones) fall into the same category. All should be avoided. When they can’t be avoided, we should make it a practice to spend only the minimum time necessary there and then quickly get out.
That's very good advice indeed in an age of terrorism.