Guns and Mumbai.
India’s government not only failed to protect its citizens from terrorism, it wouldn’t allow them to protect themselves. Check out this paragraph from the Wall Street Journal:
At about 9:45 p.m., two gunmen, slender and in their mid-20s, ran up the circular driveway at the entrance to the Trident. They shot the security guard and two bellhops. The hotel had metal detectors, but none of its security personnel carried weapons because of the difficulties in obtaining gun permits from the Indian government, according to the hotel company’s chairman, P.R.S. Oberoi.
On the other hand, at least some Indian officials are taking responsibility for their failure, which is more than we can say about anyone in the U.S. government after September 11.
I’ve seen this sort of claim a number of places, but I disagree, because this isn’t a case of an individual going postal in a shopping mall or a school. In those parts of the US where ordinary people can legally carry handguns, the percentage who do so is very low–so low that there would be at best one or two people with a pistol around if something like this happened here. Real life isn’t like Die Hard–one guy with a pistol going up against a trained infantry squad is just going to die without accomplishing anything.
For the people on the spot to stop a terrorist attack like this, it’s also necessary for the culture to be such that all or nearly all of the people are armed at all times. That’s not the case in the US, and I know of no reason to think it’s the case in India either. In fact, the only incident I know of in my lifetime where an armed citizenry repelled heavily armed terrorists was in Somalia, when the city of Mogadishu drove off a terrorist attack by the Evil Empire. It was a costly victory, though–thousands of Somalis died fighting about a company of Imperial Stormtroopers.