No, this article is not about National Guardsmen (or women). It’s not about any state or county run organization that empowers citizens to act as a group during any crisis. This article is about Joseph Average Citizen – otherwise known as Joe Citizen – and what power Joe Citizen has against both crime and terrorism in this country. I don’t think many people realize just how powerful of a person Joe Citizen is. In fact, I think many Joe Citizens walk around day in and day out in a haze… a haze brought on by being blissfully unaware of what is going on around them. I believe that many citizens stay in this state of unawareness until something happens to wake them up. Usually that something is an emergency that mandates an immediate reaction from them. Unfortunately, what they decide to do – how they react – will be entirely dependent on what they’ve observed and how it affects them. If they’ve not observed anything because they’re in their own little world, then their reaction may not be appropriate or effective. If Joe Citizen would simply sometimes pay attention the power of our collective citizenry would be formidable. Here’s how…
In our country today there are an estimated 800,000 law enforcement professionals. That’s 800,000 out of an estimated 329,500,000 residents. What’s that ratio? One law officer for every four hundred and twelve (412) people – approximately. Hmmm… that seems a fair ratio. According to the United States Census Bureau, we’re gaining one person about every eleven seconds. I can almost promise you that we’re not gaining that many cops so the ratio is going down.
Our standing military has an approximate 2.1 million members (according to the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia). That’s 2.1 million if you combine the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Space Force and include all of the Reserves and National Guard. That’s a ratio of one soldier for every one hundred and fifty-three residents.
I think we all agree that uniformed service – whether it’s military or law enforcement – presents a significant defending force in our country today. The military motto of “Protect and Defend” refers to protecting our country and defending its borders. In essence, the military looks OUT from the United States. Law enforcement, on the other hand, is there to “Protect and Serve”. That protection from crime and public service happens INSIDE our borders. However, repeated court decisions have made it clear that law enforcement professionals have no legal responsibility for each resident’s safety. Indeed it’s entirely unreasonable to even think that our police officers and / or deputies could be everywhere we need them to be to protect everyone all the time.
While that number above, 1 cop for every 412 citizens, sounds good, you have to remember that not all 800K cops are on duty at the same time – and citizens don’t live in shifts. And, while we might assume that the 800K count of law enforcement officers means 267,000 are on duty at a time (three 8-hour shifts per day, right?) the reality is that it takes FIVE police professionals to work a full 24 hour shift. That’s because they work five out of seven days each week, have court, training, vacation, sick time, etc. So, divide that 800,000 by five and you get 160,000 on duty at any given time. THAT 160,000 translates into one law enforcement professional for every 2,059 citizens. All of a sudden the numbers don’t look so terrific for personal service, eh?
So, who out there might do a little better? How about the citizens themselves? Of course, criminals don’t have any compunctions stopping them from carrying and using weapons, so the citizens have to be able to meet violence with an equal or greater level of violence. So, I assumed – and I know it’s a bad assumption up front – but I assumed that only citizens who carry guns are law enforcement equivalents when it comes to deterring or fighting against crime. Hmmm… how many citizens in this country carry guns? I was unable to get nationwide numbers but I was able to get the numbers for a few states and it was pretty cool:
Based on internet research the following states have issued the approximate number of Concealed Carry Permits. Now I know that not every holder of a Concealed Carry Permit actually carries a gun all the time… but they can, so I counted them. (2020 numbers are latest I could find)
- Texas 1,520,000
- Florida 2,190,000
- Georgia 1,100,000
- Alabama 1,090,000
- Indiana 967,000
- Ohio 710,000
- North Carolina 703,000
- Utah 692,000
- Tennessee 681,000
TOTAL of NINE states listed: 9,653,000
And since we’ve already established that citizens don’t live in shifts, that equates to one armed citizen for every 34 residents. Wow… no wonder crime rates are dropping. But here’s another thought: no wonder we haven’t seen a sudden rash of Suicide (HOMICIDE) Bombers or terrorist shooters.
Now, I know there’s another way of looking at those numbers – again, only shown from nine states – that make a few people unhappy. Here’s one: 9,653,000 gun carrying citizens means that they outnumber our law enforcement professionals 12-to-1 total, or 60-to-1 for on-duty officers. Remember, we’re only talking about the numbers from nine states!
Heck, our armed citizens in those nine states outnumbers our standing military force four-to-one and SOME of those armed citizens could be National Guardsman themselves. I can assure you that having an armed citizenry of that size causes some politicians to take pause… because that’s a blatant example of the power of our 2nd Amendment.
So, what’s my point? My point is that our citizenry presents a far scarier deterrent to terrorism and crime than the police or military forces do. Sure, the cop on the corner in uniform with busy eyes is a great visible deterrent. But how many little old ladies going to or from the grocery store on that sidewalk are armed? The point is that terrorists can fairly easily identify cops and soldiers. Identifying Americans is pretty easy. Identifying which of us are armed isn’t so easy. Identifying which of us is armed and more than happy to shoot a terrorist is less so. They have to assume that we are ALL willing – and perhaps even happy – to shoot them to stop a Homicide Bombing or other attack.
Folks, the numbers reported here are only nine out of how many? 41 states have Shall Issue carry laws. Multiply the number by four and you get almost FORTY MILLION armed citizens in this country. That’s ONE armed citizen for every 8 residents. That’s a reality that terrorists don’t want to deal with – but are trying to find a way. Do the math. They like operations that have a good chance of success. They usually plan four at a time fully expecting that something will go wrong and only one will be successful.
If one out of every eight Americans is armed, that means out of 100 citizens on the street, at least 12 have a gun with which to shoot and disable / kill a terrorist who makes himself known by presenting any kind of threat. And he has no way of identifying which 12 out of a 100. How can they prepare for that?
I’m reminded of the story of the Homicide Bomber that opened her robes in an Israeli market place. A house wife out shopping drew her pistol and, with a single headshot, prevented the bomber from detonating. THAT is the power of an armed citizenry. It’s a power we need to leverage instead of arguing about whether or not carrying guns is Constitutionally protected.
As a police officer I’m not bothered at all by the number of citizens who are legally armed and licensed to carry. I welcome them. They are the good guys. They are the kind of Americans who fought and bled for our freedom two centuries ago. They are the hard working, often veteran, culturally mixed people who simply want the chance to pursue peace, liberty and justice. They work hard and want to earn a fair wage. They don’t ask for handouts. They often give more help than they can afford. As Garth Brooks says, “We don’t reach for handouts; we reach for those who are down.”
This country has built a great reputation fighting for… defending the underdogs of the world. It’s made us strong and that ethos is one that we have to continue to build and develop. America of the future can be even stronger – but we have to quit the internal squabbling.
I’ll step down off my soap box… Read the numbers. Recognize that our armed citizens represent a greater defense force – our citizen soldiers – than our law enforcement or military. AMERICANS are what makes America strong – and the whole world knows it.