Home > Uncategorized > Soft Targets Force Hard Decisions: Do We Want Big Brother or Big Guns?

Soft Targets Force Hard Decisions: Do We Want Big Brother or Big Guns?

The headline of this post provides a summary of the decision Western Europe faces in light of recent terror attacks. An article by Adam Rossiter in today’s NYTimes describes the difficult decisions given the open borders, the public transportation systems, and the increasingly surveilled streets and individuals. Over the weekend, five unarmed individuals overpowered a Moroccan passenger on a train after he fired a gun and discovered that he had “…dozens of rounds of ammunition, an AK-47, an automatic pistol and a box cutter.” Should they increase camera surveillance in public areas that already have thousands of cameras? Should they deport individuals identified as likely terrorists? Should they increase armed guards on trains?

As one who has long advocated some kinds of controls on the sale of weapons, I offered this thought in the comment section:

How does someone on a terror list acquire “…dozens of rounds of ammunition, an AK-47, (and) an automatic pistol”? Are those of us who reside in the West willing to trade safe passage on public roads and public vehicles for the right to acquire weapons designed to kill large numbers of human beings? It seems to me that the easiest way top make the entire world a safer place would be to ban the manufacture and private ownership of these kinds of weapons rather than live in a world where cameras survey us 24/7 and armed military units check baggage, patrol train stations and inside trains.

I fully expect many gun rights activists to respond with invective to this idea with some even suggesting that if the five unarmed individuals had a weapon themselves the whole problem would have been solved expeditiously. Why do I say this? Because I see this debate mirrored in our debate about school safety where it appears we are willing to trade the free movement of children in schools and in our neighborhoods for the rights of some individuals to accumulate large numbers of weapons that are designed to kill other human beings. Our solution to the school shootings is to tightly regulate and monitor schools and students instead of tightly regulating regulating and monitoring the sale of weapons. If we worried as much about the dispensing of guns as we worried about the dispensing of marijuana we might worry much less about the safety in our schools and on our playgrounds.

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