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February 09, 2005


dave munger

I read Clarke's article, and I am a bit skeptical about this vision of a Columbine at the Mall thing. If this sort of thing would work, why haven't terrorists tried it elsewhere? I just don't think the numbers are there. Maybe they could get a few dozen people, but a few hundred? You start shooting, and people run, people hide. Doesn't add up, to me.

Now a subway, I could imagine this sort of thing working there. No escape for the victims.


I like the way you think.

In my view, Columbine at the Mall may be fine in terms of shuting down the economy, but I think Columbine at Columbine would freak people out - and if you sent four heavily armed guys into a school, one can only wonder. Or a HS basketball game.

Now, the 19 hijackers did seem to have a thing about killing "innocents", and women and children seemed to be off the target list, so *maybe* recruiting guys for such a venture is impossible.

But I don't see that sort of compunction reflected in the car bombings and suicide bombings in Iraq or Israel, so I don't get it. Hard to believe it is all just our good luck, though.


Why is Dylan Klebold's one day spree more terrifying than Lee Boyd Malvo's weeks-long random shootings?


From Clark's dream: "Four men... entered the mall at two points." resulting in ".. more than 300 people were dead and 400 lay wounded"

Aside from his anti-gun screeching, Clark appears never to have set foot in a mall, particularly not the(~snicker~)"Mall of The States". Had he, he would have realized that the number of exit points in your average mall would in short order leave only scantily clad Victoria Secret mannequins for the terrorists to shoot at.

The suggestion that armed citizens would not affect the situation is absurd. Even if armed citizens failed to actually kill any of the attackers, the diversion of attention would save many lives. Indeed, if the attackers knew citizens could be armed their strategy could not be the simple unchallenged full frontal assault of Clark's dream. They would have to plan on a time-consuming tactic of search-and-destroy instead. As such, right-to-carry would mean lives saved even before the attackers stepped through the door.

Lastly, a mall presents a delicious array of nooks and crannies (the Mall of America even more so). It is not beyond belief that some Todd Beamer-like S&W enthusiast could crouch from or otherwise survive the first wave (if you can call two guys walking by a wave), step out in all the noise ten or twenty yards behind, and put a nice hot round or two into the soft unprotected nape of the neck of an attacker.

I'd be happy to.


Body armor is scant protection from a head shot.


Of the two suspects killed by police, one died of multiple gunshot wounds after he was captured.

I'm hoping this meant to say that the suspect died after he was captured, of multiple gunshot wounds. And not, of course, of multiple wounds incurred after capture.

Harry Arthur

Clark likely overstates the danger to the average American simply because there are too many malls and too many of us to scare very many of us for long even if his scenario was absolutely accurate. For example, how many Americans outside of the DC area were truly worried about snipers when we were dealing with weekly sniper killings here? This isn't Israel or Iraq. We have almost 300 million citizens and large expanses of territory.

Secondly, all a single act of this nature would do would be to significantly increase the arming of America (not that there's anything wrong with that I might add). Does anyone doubt for a minute that citizens by the thousands would make their way down to the local gun shop, buy the best concealed pistol available, a good supply of hollow points, register for a concealed carry permit, and join the NRA to learn how to shoot more accurately if anything like this went down anywhere in America?

Thank God for the Second Amendment and for concealed carry, not to mention the probability that there would be an off-duty policeman or two at any large mall that might survive the first onslaught. MMM gets this one too. The MINIMUM an armed civilian would do would be to slow down the attackers significantly as they responded. BTW, unless you're wearing full body armor, there are lots of exposed areas where a well placed or just lucky shot will take down an attacker. They don't have to be dead (we can take care of that later) just immobilized.

Additionally, MMM, not only are there multiple exit points but there are multiple levels with multiple exit points to most malls I'm familiar with at least, leaving this a "3 dimensional" chess game for both the attackers and any potential defenders.

Finally, Slartibartfast, your second point - who cares when the guy dies - before capture, after capture - all the same to me. Of course we probably would like to torture some information out of the guy first, but ...


"And I don't mean to sound hopelessly close-minded, but please, the odds of my changing my mind on this are slim."

Fine. You are a sandbag. A sandbag can be useful in a firefight.


Body armor is scant protection from a head shot.

Good point - that is why 200 cops were able to take these three guys down in only an hour.

The multiple exits point is a stronger rebuttal for large malls. So what? Have the team pick a smaller mall, or a large store. Ths San Diego McDonalds incident would be a bit of an example.

And yes, if there had been armed citizens firing back at that specific crime, many deaths would have been averted. But if the guy had been wearing body armor, probably not.

Just because Clarke didn't think this through doesn't mean a terrorist group would not.

craig henry

How many cops did the LA robbers kill while invulnerable in their body armor?

Zero. The shootout lasted so long because they were trying to escape and using cover. Had they tried to hunt down wounded cops, the fight would have been over much faster.

I don't deny that attacks on malls or other soft targets is possible. I do think that Clarke did a poor job of analyzing what was likely to happen and let a lot of liberal talking points get into his "dispassionate" future history.


Hey, TM. Thank you for pointing to evidence that proves that Clark may have overstated a bit (quite a bit).

The story you link to sez one guy with three weapons kills 20, wounds 16. So, four attackers = 80 dead, 64 wounded. A far cry from Clark's 300, 400 fantasy.

True, body armour would extend a given situation. But wait! These are Jihadists! Why are they all Kelvared up? Aren't they looking forward to meeting up with those 72 raisins... er, I mean... virgins?

And as for picking a smaller venue, the smallest mall I can think of locally is a single level 110 store puzzle shaped thing with, if memory serves, at least 12 customer entrances. The total number of exit points, however, is greater.

If Clark's point was that we're vunerable, well duh and nose hit. But while Clark (and so he says, Chuckie) are all in a hissy fit over gun registration and lack of numbers of shopping mall Blues, tinkering with the interior situation is going to amount to squat without locking down security's first point of order, our borders.

You see, the question Clark doesn't answer in his Shopping Mall fantasy is, How did the the terrorists get in-country in the first place?

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