Soft and hard targets

The ever-enlightened Simon Jenkins in the Guardian has a fascinating insight into how to deal with terrorist attacks:

The modern urban obsession with celebrity buildings and high-profile events offers too many publicity-rich targets. A World Trade Centre, a Mumbai hotel, a Boston marathon, a Nairobi shopping mall are all enticing to extremists. Defending them is near impossible. Better at least not to create them.
Is it just me, or does this sound awfully like "women shouldn't wear short skirts, because it's provocative and makes men want to rape them?" It's a rather odd sentiment, coming from the Guardian of all newspapers.

But let's run with Sir Simon's argument and see where it takes us:

A shopping mall not only wipes out shopping streets, it makes a perfect terrorist fortress, near impossible to assault. There is no defence against the terror weapons of guns and grenades.
That does rather assume that the terrorists can take over the mall in the first place, of course. I invite the gentle reader to consider how far al-Shabaab would have got in a Texas mall. Remember that both the Washington Navy Yard shooter and the soon-to-be-very-ex-Major Nidal Hassan's Fort Hood shooting were only able to carry on as long as they did, and shoot as many people as they did, because both areas were gun-free zones. In both cases, once armed police officers turned up they engaged the gunman and ended up shooting him. From this we can deduce that if you want to stop a determined shooter, having guns and the training to use them is rather important.

You'll never be able to stop a determined shooter from getting off his or her first few shots at innocents. The difference is that in a Texas mall the volume of retaliatory fire will drastically limit the number of casualties, and give the gunman very little time to pick their shots before defending themself from imminent death becomes their overriding concern. For the record, despite the above video, I'd rather the civilians use pistols in a mall - high-powered rifles are probably not the best firearm in a crowded environment with solid flat surfaces everywhere.

As for bombs, it seems that Sir Simon would rather people didn't go to church because it's a near-irresistable target for bombers. I invite the reader to consider where such an approach would lead, and wonder at what an Oxford PPE must do to one's brain, not to mention spine.

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