- - Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Gun-free zones are zones where you’re more likely to be gunned down by demented murderers who can dispatch a large number of victims in a short time, and the killers know it. A “gun-free nation,” like France, is even more inviting. The radical Islamic terrorists kept up their grim attack in Paris for more than three hours, and then all but one of them took his own life without help from the police. The Islamic State, or ISIS or ISIL, says it will hit the United States next, and the police, even with swat teams and grenades, smoke bombs and armored personnel carriers, can’t protect everyone. Arming civilians would supply good guys with guns to stop bad guys with guns.

The message that adorns many automobile bumpers, “When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns,” is a cliche, but like most cliches, it’s true. In many European countries, military-style weapons are rigorously banned, and a good citizen who wants a hunting rifle or revolver or pistol must submit to stringent criminal background and mental-health checks. The criminals who slipped easily through the Europe’s open borders to kill 129 persons and wounded hundreds more likely used smuggled weapons. In neither case were armed civilians at hand to be life-saving obstacles until help arrived.

The attacks in gun-free zones at shopping malls, on college campuses and in public buildings have mounted in recent years. Attacks on children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and moviegoers at the Aurora cinema in Colorado, have succeeded because the innocent were unable to defend themselves. Even soldiers trained to shoot, at Fort Hood and in a recruiting station in Chattanooga, Tenn., were at the mercy of terrorists because they were forbidden to carry their personal weapons.

Policemen see the senselessness of defenselessness most closely at hand. A 2013 survey by PoliceOne, an organization of 450,000 active and retired law enforcement officers, concluded that more permissive concealed carry permits for civilians are necessary. James Craig, the police chief of Detroit, urges residents there to arm themselves. Urban thugs are a different breed from radical Islamic killers, but their bullets are just as deadly. Criminals fear to tread where citizens shoot back.

The Second Amendment grants the right to keep and bear arms, but a citizen’s ability to defend himself with a weapon authorized in his home state is restricted when he travels into a jurisdiction where firearm possession is either not permitted or is severely restricted. A federal right-to-carry law would resolve that risk. Toward that end, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a Republican, has introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that would grant those who hold concealed carry permits in their home states the right to carry a gun in another state if it is not specifically prohibited. A companion bill has been introduced in the House by Rep. Marlin Stutzman, Indiana Republican.

Every shooting death is a tragedy, but so are other types of fatality. Annual gun-related deaths, intentional and accidental, totaled 33,636 in 2013. Traffic accidents and drug-related deaths both claimed more victims — 35,369 and 46,471, respectively, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. No one proposes a ban of automobiles, and legalizing pot is all the rage. If radical Islamic terrorists intend to unleash depravity on the U.S. homeland, they should be confronted by responsibly armed Americans willing to oblige their death wish.