Let’s talk about bombs for a minute

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

Let’s talk about bombs for a minute, Greg Ellifritz suggests:

This week, a Utah high school student was arrested after he attempted to detonate a large backpack bomb in his school. Luckily, the bomb malfunctioned and the school was evacuated before anyone was hurt.

Those of you who have taken my “Response to a Terrorist Bombing” class might remember how I discussed that in worldwide terrorist events, the trend is moving more and more towards combining bombs and guns in the attack.

If you find yourself in the middle of a mass shooting, you must be prepared for the coming bomb blasts. If you survive a bomb blast, you must be looking out for people with guns shooting up the evacuation site. That’s simply the reality of modern terrorist attacks worldwide.

This particular incident had only a bombing component (likely because it was committed by a lone high school student without any true support of a terrorist network). I predict we will see more and more of these as well.

After the Las Vegas concert shooting and the Florida school shooting, people are becoming more conscious of the potential carnage that can be inflicted by a deranged gunman armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a lot of ammunition. There are currently multiple social and political pressures being applied to limit the purchase and/or possession of these rifles. While I don’t personally think that tactic will be effective at reducing mass casualties in a terrorist attack, I believe it will become harder and harder to legally acquire semi-automatic rifles in the future.

What will the terrorist resort to if he can’t get a rifle and lots of ammo? You guessed it…bombs. Look at terrorist attacks worldwide. In countries with very strict gun control, we see terrorists use bombs more often. Bombs are easy to make and can cause massive casualties if placed in the right location at the right time. Bombs also bring a disproportionate amount of media attention, which is exactly what the killers and terrorists crave.

If you predict that semi-automatic rifles will become harder to legally acquire in the future, then you have to be prepared for more terrorist bombing incidents.

Be careful what you wish for.


  1. Graham says:

    There’s good reason bombs have historically been a weapon of choice for terrorists. Relatively easy to make big ones or small ones using available materials if you have the skill set. Not always so easy to get the skill set and easy to screw up the implementation fatally if you don’t have it, but if you do… much easier than wasting several people in a gunfight. You reserve the guns for more tactically useful situations where the risk is worth it.

    The classic terrorists of the 60s-80s used both and varied in competence with both. In the modern history of the US, it almost seems like it has mostly been criminals [including in this the folks just doing it for mental illness or other personal reasons] who favoured the drama of guns and the politicals have preferred explosives. I’m not too up on the Weathermen- I know they did both but I have formed the impression they used bombs more, albeit sometimes killing themselves. Appreciate any correction on that point.

    At one point in China a few years back it was demonstrated how much harm you can do with knives on a train platform.

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