In my day-to-day life, I bounce around between Texas and Arizona quite a bit. Both states are similar in many ways, especially regarding the freedom citizens in the two states enjoy as far the ability to defend life and property with a firearm is concerned.
For example, in either state, were a man to come towards you with a gun, you could legally draw your handgun and shoot him dead – period. (And truth be told, I don’t believe he even has to have a gun for this to be legal. He could pull a knife on you in close quarters and the laws in both states would allow you to defend your life with lethal force.)
This is because both states are among the more than 30 that have adopted some form of Castle Doctrine legislation, which means you don’t have to make any effort to escape an attacker (the old “duty-to-retreat” laws are gone), rather you meet force with force and that’s that.
It makes for a pretty bad day for the would-be criminal and a pretty good day for armed citizen.
And during my most recent trip to Texas, as I stood in the checkout line at a convenient store with a Smith and Wesson .45 under my shirt, I wondered to myself: “Why am I freer than the troops who keep me free?” In other words, why are the rules of engagement for the average Arizonan or Texan so much clearer and less favorable to the would-be criminal than the rules of engagement our troops have to endure when handling a member of the Taliban or any other group that means them harm?
I posed this question to a few different friends of mine who hold various ranks in the U.S. military and each of them gave roughly the same answer: “Our higher-ups don’t want to the lose the public relations war in the Middle East.”
Thus, when our troops see someone planting what looks like an improvised explosive device (I.E.D.) in the ground by a road, they have to seek permission from a Ground Force Commander before engaging the would-be bomber. And while this might be understandable at certain times under certain situations, it seems to give the obvious advantage to the bad guys (i.e., the bomb builders) rather the good guys (i.e., us).
No wonder an Afghanistan vet to whom I’ve spoken in the past once told me: “There are times when you have the enemy dead to rights but you can’t do anything.” Or, to put it as another combat vet did, “decision makers are willing to allow Taliban members to escape in order to keep from killing one innocent individual.”
Folks, please don’t get me wrong: I am not advocating the purposeful targeting of innocents in Iraq or Afghanistan anymore than I’d advocate going into a public place and opening fire here in America. Instead, the point I am trying to make is that our troops are simply too constrained – period. (And the enemy knows it. That’s why it’s common to hear combat vets from the Middle East talk about “Taliban Body Armor” – a phrase which refers to the enemy’s habit of placing a kid on the back of their scooter or motorcycle in order to keep our forces from taking a shot at them.)
Perhaps the clearest way to state my concern is by saying I’m afraid the would-be criminal at the local 7/11 fears me and my .45 more than some members of the Taliban fear our entire military establishment. The criminal fears because he knows the laws allow me to shoot him dead, dead, dead, if he puts my life at risk. The bomb making member of the Taliban doesn’t fear because he knows the “decision makers” are often too focused on public relations to allow a guy digging a hole for an I.E.D. to be taken out.
It simply should not be this way. Those who keep me free ought to be at least as free as me.
God bless our troops.