I live in Redlands, California. It's a quiet, beautiful, and small town. I moved here from Long Beach to get away from the noise, traffic, and constant hovering of helicopters around my home. I live in a modest home, but I feel like a millionaire every time I go out and PT - running by gorgeous turn of the century homes and down the scenic downtown streets. I frequent the local shops, treat myself every once in a while to A La Minute Ice Cream, and eat at many of the local restaurants. I had peace here . . . until yesterday.
As I watched the terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center unfold in my news feed, I realized that my fiancé was working less than a mile away as a nurse at the local hospital. She ended up being safe, and was actually providing care for one of the victims. As I began to hear helicopters and sirens, and realized that there was a standoff going on less than a mile away, the day ended with me sitting in the dark with my rifle in my lap and extra ammo in my pocket sitting on the floor with a view out of my window. I knew the likelihood of any terrorists coming my way was very low since the police set up a perimeter, but it was likely enough that I wasn't going to take any chances.
In truth, at that moment I felt peace and regret. I had peace that my fiancé had since made it home safe, and was sitting behind me rubbing my shoulders. I had peace knowing that I could defend my home if anyone were to come in meaning my loved ones harm. I had peace knowing that the two terrorists who committed these murders were now riddled with bullets.
Where did my regret come from?
It came from stupidity of my thinking up to that day. I thought that, living in a town like Redlands, we would never see anything like what we saw yesterday. I thought that my small idyllic town was immune. I became the very thing that I never wanted to be and that I'd thought my service in the Marine Corps had beaten out of me: a fucking sheep.
Sure, I'd been following the news and studying ISIS. I still looked over my shoulder and I kept my eyes open, but I was looking for something I could clearly identify as a terrorist.
What I don't think most people realize, tacticool veterans and wine sniffing hipsters alike, is that this war is different. ISIS is not going to come rolling up in humvees or rappelling down buildings. They aren't all going to be dressed in hijabs or traditional muslim gear. They're going to look and act just like you and me until that moment when they turn their switch and make their move to permanently stop your breathing. This means that those of us with vigilant minds who are preparing for some sort of invasion with well defined targets are no less sheep than the latte making barista who meditates on his breaks. The truth is that, by the time these goat sodomizers don their flack vests and pick up their assault rifles, it's too late. Someone is going to die and all you can do is prevent them from killing more Americans. We can't fool ourselves into thinking that we'll just show up to an all out firefight with our AR's and save the day. If we are realistic about it, this will be nothing like combat.
What can we do then? What we can do is look at the President's call for stricter gun laws in the wake of this incident as what it is: pure idiocy. Our chances of mitigating the carnage from an ISIS attack are already bad as it is, this will drop the chance to zero. Rather than restricting gun laws, we should be making concealed and open carry, with prerequisite training and background checks, more available to responsible citizens. Nurses, teachers, and public officials should especially have these options available to them along with anyone else who qualifies. Will bad people get guns? Absolutely, but bad people will also have guns even if they're illegal. At the very least, wider gun possession will allow innocent citizens to protect themselves or to prevent further carnage.
There's some out there who would read this and try to characterize me as some right wing nut. I'm not. I'm could give a damn about politics, and I could give a damn what religion someone follows, who they have sex with, or whether or not they do drugs. What I do believe in is liberty, and the freedom to be able to defend one self from enemies, both foreign and domestic.
This war will have two fronts. Our uniformed military will fight ISIS on foreign soil, but on the home front the rest of us will be the boots on the ground in a very different war. There will be no movement to contact, patrols in hostile territory, or forward operating bases. There will only be us in the moment and we will either have the tools to defend ourselves and others, or we will not. If we do not, then we are in for some very dark days.