You all heard the news last week about the whack job who crashed his SUV into a police cruiser in Washington, then ran into the Capitol armed with a handgun.
It was an amazing story given the police security presence in the nation’s capital these days.
There are concrete barricades, metal detectors, anti-aircraft guns, sandbags, pillboxes, soldiers, machine guns – all there to protect against a terrorist attack.
But this was one lone nut! How could he have gained access to the Capitol when every day police stop, search and identify thousands of normal, well-meaning citizens who have business to conduct in their Capitol?
Those were good questions right after the incident. But now there are more questions raised by the latest details of the incident dropped by federal prosecutors toward the end of the day Friday – when, they knew, most news services were packing it up for the weekend.
It turns out the breach of security was even worse than we were initially told.
Not only did the lone nut get into the Capitol, not only was he armed, but it wasn’t even the Capitol police who caught him!
You might remember the Capitol police announcing an officer stopped Carlos Greene, 20, at the point of a shotgun. We even heard Greene attempted to grab the gun. Scratch that.
It was, once again, unarmed civilians who were the real heroes.
“It was the civilians who did have him corralled or subdued,” said Sgt. Kimberly Schneider. “We were hot on his trail. We just didn’t get there in time.”
Hot on his trail? Didn’t get there in time?
It’s really a familiar story to those of us who are familiar with the way bad guys are caught. Police can’t be everywhere. And even if they could, we wouldn’t want to live in a land where they had to be. Ordinary civilians can and do protect themselves and others – often.
They do an even better job when they are armed themselves – which isn’t likely in the nation’s capital, where it is virtually a capital offense for law-abiding citizens to carry a gun, despite what the Constitution might say.
Remember the big manhunt for the Beltway Snipers? They, too, were caught by civilians within hours of a valid description of the suspects and their vehicle finally being released to the public – after it had been withheld for some time.
The biggest manhunt I ever saw – the one for “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez in California in 1985 – quickly came to an end, too, when police allowed those of us in the press to publish a sketch. The mass murderer was nearly lynched by civilians the morning the paper came out. The police had to rescue the killer of 13 who had terrorized the entire state for more than a year.
It’s people power – and we need more of it in the U.S. today. We don’t need a Department of Homeland Security – we need an army of responsible, motivated, vigilant, self-governing people entrusted by their government officials with their inalienable right to bear arms. And we need a government that recognizes it is not all-knowing and all-powerful and stops treating its citizens like helpless children.