Politics & Policy

You Can Be Jason Falconer

Target practice at a shooting range in Marlboro, Md. (Reuters photo: Yuri Gripas)
You have control over whether you’re trained to protect yourself and those around you.

The silver lining — the only silver lining — of the modern season of jihadist violence is the fact that each and every jihadist attack reveals that there are Americans of unusual courage. Sometimes, when they don’t have the means to protect themselves, even the most extreme acts of bravery don’t stop an attack. In San Bernardino, for example, three unnamed, unarmed men rushed the two heavily armed attackers but were cut down.

But in St. Cloud, Minn., the tables were turned. A jihadist on a knife rampage encountered a part-time, off-duty police officer, and the outcome was very, very different. The officer killed the terrorist and saved lives. But to call Jason Falconer a mere “part-time cop” is to do him a grave injustice. To use the proper sociological phrase, let’s just say that the dude is a boss.

Falconer is a former police chief and the current owner of Tactical Advantage, a gun range, gun shop, gunsmith, and training facility. He’s a personal-security trainer, an award-winning competitive shooter, and a three-gun shooter. To get a sense of three-gun, this Keanu Reeves video (yes, Keanu Reeves) is a fair representation:

Just before she left for her class, Nancy said: “This is the first terrorist attack when I didn’t say to myself, ‘I should be doing more to protect myself and our family.’ I’m doing what I should do.” This has nothing to do with fear or panic. It has everything to do with responsibility and vigilance. It’s about living with humble confidence. None of us knows how we’ll react until the moment of crisis, but we can certainly prepare to react the right way.

Years ago, Jason Falconer made his decision — to protect. I don’t know how he feels today. Taking a human life is an act of extraordinary weight. Even when justified, some men struggle mightily with the aftermath. Others can drive forward, firm in the conviction that they fulfilled their purpose and grateful that they had the courage to rise to the moment. I pray that Falconer can be at peace, that he knows he did what he had to do.

Of course we can’t all be just like Falconer. After all, he shoots and trains shooters for a living. But we can make the same fundamental choice. We can choose to protect.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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