Why We Carry: The Australian Cafe Shootings

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It happened overseas, but the lesson is still pointed for U.S. citizens: Hostages in Sydney, Australia’s Lindt Chocolat Cafe standoff in December could not defend themselves as we can in many places in the U.S. The distant incident is a reminder of why we carry.

Background: On Dec. 15, a gunman took 17 hostages at the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Sydney. The siege ended 16 hours later in a barrage of gunfire that left two hostages and the Iranian-born gunman dead.

Police stormed the cafe in the early hours of the 16th, ending the siege. The assailant, Man Haron Monis, was declared dead at the scene. Tori Johnson, a manager of the store, was also killed, along with attorney and mother of three Katrina Dawson, 38.

Our emotions while watching these events from afar initially ranged from horror to sympathy. We regretted that a madman was able to overcome and eventually kill people trapped in the store.

But after the shooting was over, we were grateful for our ability to defend ourselves in many places in the U.S.

Those trapped within the Lindt cafe were helpless because carrying items for self-defense is not allowed. Owning any prohibited weapon (which is broadly defined), for the purpose of self-defense, improvised or otherwise lethal or non-lethal, is a criminal offence.

Australia’s prohibition on the large majority of weapons emanated from changes in firearms laws in 1996, which followed an event known as the Port Arthur massacre.

So, those who are unable to flee, or who are not strong, or who can’t fashion an improvised weapon, have no option but to rely on the police, who will almost always arrive after something bad has started to happen.

The police cannot be everywhere, and we shouldn’t expect them to keep us safe all the time. Thank goodness that in most of the U.S., Law Shield members and others have effective means of self defense with them.