Politics & Policy

Ben Carson Is Right — Charge Attackers, Don’t Shelter in Place

(Bill Pugliano/Getty)

Common sense apparently does strange things to some progressive minds. Yesterday morning, speaking on Fox and Friends, Ben Carson said of a mass-shooting situation, “I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say, ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.’”

The New York Times declared that his statement was “drawing widespread rebuke from his critics and reviving questions about his candidacy.” ABC News asked him to “clarify” his statement, leading to this rather amusing exchange:

ABC: Dr. Carson can you clarify your statements on the Oregon shooting?

Carson: What needs clarification?

ABC: I guess there’s an implication that you’re saying that the students didn’t do enough to save themselves.

Carson: No, I said nothing about them. I said what I would do.

ABC: And can you say what you would do?

Carson: I would ask everybody to attack the gunman because he can only shoot one of us at a time. That way we don’t all wind up dead.

He then laughed and walked away. Later, on Megyn Kelly’s show, he said that he wasn’t laughing at the shooting but rather the “silliness” of the people asking the question. He said that he wanted to “plant the seed in people’s minds so that if this happens again they don’t all get killed.”

There was a time when the guidance for passengers in airplane hijackings could be summed up in one word: Cooperate. And on September 11, 2001, hijackers used that guidance to guarantee their control of three airplanes — the planes that later flew straight into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. But on one aircraft, the passengers learned that cooperation meant certain death, and they unilaterally changed the protocols. As a result, it’s now virtually unthinkable that American passengers will simply stand by and allow a hijacker to seize an airliner’s controls.

RELATED: On Man’s Duty to Defend the Weak and Vulnerable

To hail the passengers of Flight 93 is not to condemn the passengers of Flight 11, Flight 175, and Flight 77. In a terrifying situation, they were doing what they were taught to do.

#share#The current guidance for victims in mass-shooting situations is just as passive as the original guidance for hijacking victims. “Shelter in place,” they’re told. In other words, hide and wait for rescue. Carson is urging a change in the paradigm, to immediate group resistance.

The key word here is “group.” The sad stories of mass shootings are replete with tales of individual heroism, of the one man who charged the attacker only to be shot down. In Oregon, Chris Mintz resisted and was shot multiple times. At Fort Hood, Captain John Gaffney reportedly died charging Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan. But where one man fails, two or three can succeed — just ask Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler, the three American men who foiled an August terrorist attack on a French train.

#related#Should the defining characteristic of Americans under fire — whether from terrorists or from depraved gunmen — be their eagerness to shelter or their courage to resist? And should a presidential candidate prioritize “sensitivity” over all other virtues? Carson is urging Americans to change their thinking, to take responsibility for their own defense. In a previous era, this would be called leadership. Now, all too many people just call it mean.

As I’ve said before, none of us can truly know how we’ll respond to a crisis until we face that ultimate test, but aspiration is the first step to action, and we can and should urge our fellow Americans to fight — together, immediately, and viciously — when confronted by a mortal threat. “Shelter in place” is supposed to mean “wait for help.” All too often it means “wait to die.” Those are not American words. They are not in keeping with American culture. On Flight 93, the battle cry was “Let’s roll.” On a train in Belgium, it was “Let’s go.” Those are the right words — the American words — for defeating evil.

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