In his speech to the American public on December 21, 2012, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre made clear, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." The sentence is a concise summary of NRA's long-held position on the Right-to-Carry, and illustrates one of the reasons NRA-ILA works to abolish restrictions on this right throughout the country. Predictably, anti-gun groups and some in the media failed to grasp the straightforward logic of the remark, or perhaps they grasped it all too well and feared what it would mean for their cause. As a result, they have criticized and attacked it.
However, the logic isn't lost on Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble. In an interview with ABC News at the 82nd Interpol General Assembly, Noble noted that an armed citizenry is one of two ways to effectively confront terrorists bent on carrying out massacres at "soft-targets," such as the gunmen who conducted the recent attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya that killed 67. Noble told the interviewer, "Societies have to think about how they're going to approach the problem.... One is to say we want an armed citizenry; you can see the reason for that. Another is to say the enclaves are so secure that in order to get into the soft target you're going to have to pass through extraordinary security."
Speaking at length on the topic, the Secretary General went on to say, "Ask yourself: If that was Denver, Col., if that was Texas, would those guys have been able to spend hours, days, shooting people randomly? ... What I'm saying is it makes police around the world question their views on gun control. It makes citizens question their views on gun control. You have to ask yourself, 'Is an armed citizenry more necessary now than it was in the past with an evolving threat of terrorism?' This is something that has to be discussed… People are quick to say 'gun control, people shouldn't be armed,' etc., etc. I think they have to ask themselves: 'Where would you have wanted to be? In a city where there was gun control and no citizens armed if you're in a Westgate mall, or in a place like Denver or Texas?"
What makes Noble's comments even more notable, and should give further pause to opponents of the Right-to-Carry, is Noble's background prior to joining Interpol. From 1994 – 1996, Noble served as a political appointee of the notoriously anti-gun Clinton administration in the role of Under Secretary of Enforcement for the Treasury Department. In this capacity Noble oversaw the operations of the BATF, which was then housed within the Treasury Department, and frequently used by Clinton to advance his gun control agenda. No one can reasonably accuse Noble of being in the pocket of the gun rights movement.
For its part, Interpol hasn't traditionally been a bastion of support for gun rights, either. At the 37th Interpol Congress in 1968, a large number of delegate states went so far as to push for an internationally accessible registry of guns and gun owners. In a October 2, 1968 article titled "Interpol moves for arms control," the London Times described the effort, stating, "[t]he plan that will almost certainly be accepted by the police delegates in the final session early next week will propose that regulations on the ownership and sale of firearms of firearms should be enforced in all states. This would be backed up by national registries of all the people permitted to own firearms." With this history in mind, the current Secretary General's comments are even more revealing and significant.
At a time when President Obama is seeking gun control guidance from countries like Australia and the UK, it is a welcome development that a public official tasked with confronting the day-to-day realities of international crime is looking instead to the U.S. tradition of civilian gun ownership and Right-to-Carry as a way to combat predatory violence. We hope that domestic and foreign governments interested in helping protect their citizens from violence consider Noble's remarks and work to broaden opportunities for citizens to provide for their own defense.