More on a Pack Not a Herd

Glenn’s TechCentralStation column is up, returning to the “pack not a herd” meme which he explored earlier and I followed up on over at the Action Center. He hits many of the same points (he mentioned we were thinking along the same lines after my post), but does a better job at it, so check it out.
One brief followup though: Glenn touches on the subject of vigilantism (and the fear of it), arguing that good preparation will limit the instances of vigilantism in the event of a new attack.
This is exactly right. Providing structured training and information to citizens on how to react appropriately in a crisis is the best thing we can do to avoid vigilante action. Involving citizens doesn’t mean just handing everyone a gun and saying “go get ’em”: it means providing structured training in the skills that can be of use in the event of an attack (for the list, see Glenn’s TCS column).
It’s the difference between a bunch of guys with guns and a trained army: both are dangerous. But the trained soldiers are both far more effective at doing damage to the bad guys, and more effective at ensuring that they don’t injure anyone else in the process.
Today, without such training programs in place, citizens are on their own to figure out, in a violent terrorist situation, whether it’s the right thing to do to try to resist with force — or whether they should wait for the professionals to arrive. Providing information from law enforcement and military professionals to citizens on how to react in this kind of situation won’t encourage vigilantism or cowboy-like behavior: on the contrary, it will prevent it…