Tragic as mass shootings may be, the loss of freedom to the citizens of the US cannot be taken away in the pursuit of complete security.
The shooting incident at the airport in Ft. Lauderdale last week bought out the predictable pronouncements from all sides of the political spectrum, with calls for stricter gun control, and increased air travel security, and even better mental health screenings.
And it is easy to take a tragic situation such as this one and point out the obvious shortcomings of each of these points that failed to protect those ordinary everyday travelers from being senselessly gunned down.
But a realistic view to the events will show that sometimes things cannot be prevented. It is easy to say after the fact that the FBI and the mental health evaluation systems failed to stop Esteban Santiago, after he told them he was hearing voices telling him to join ISIS. But mental health evaluations are not an exact science.
Maybe if gun laws concerning possession of a firearm after having a mental health examination were worded differently, this could have been prevented. Maybe if the airlines prohibited firearms totally in checked luggage, this incident could have been avoided.
It is a big maybe, because those who are mentally disturbed, and particularly those who are seeking to perpetrate an incident such as this, when finding their first plan blocked, will switch to an alternate plan. If he had not gotten his gun back, he would probably have found another. If guns were outlawed, there would be a black market for them, perhaps even making it easier for him to purchase another.
And if he couldn’t take his weapon on the plane in his checked luggage, he could have simply driven to a nearby airport, walked in the front door and started shooting. By the way, it could have just as easily been a movie theater, or a church service, or a military recruiting office. And instead of a gun, he could have used a bomb, a truck, or his own automobile.
The point is, ever since Cain slew Abel, bad guys have been killing other people, and, while it is prudent to take every precaution you can, it will happen again. That doesn’t make it any less tragic, but it is a fact of life.
Every precaution is taken to ensure the safety of the passengers on public transportation, but sometimes mechanical failure or human error can cause a plane or a bus to crash, resulting in the loss if human lives. No amount of expense can prevent it from happening again.
It’s the same with security. There is nothing to stop someone from attacking a group of people gathered in any setting, airport, rock concert, or shopping mall, and inflicting heavy casualties, short of searching everybody for weapons at checkpoints all along the route and the entrances to the venues.
But do we want to trade our freedom of movement to accomplish this? I mourn for the families of the latest shooting incident, as well as all others of similar incidents, and even those whose lives were cut short by accidents.
But more laws and restrictions on our individual rights and freedoms are not the answer. More vigilance by the public can help, but we can’t become a nation of finger pointers whenever our neighbor, who we always thought was a little strange, starts carrying a violin case to school.
We all want to be protected, and we especially want our families and children go be protected while they are away from us.
But how far are we willing to go to achieve a sense of safety and security? Will we be able to accept life in a police state, where all buildings are locked down, and security officials randomly check our automobiles at check points for weapons, even though individually we never owned even a pocket knife?
Are we willing to submit our homes to searches, because our neighbors thought our teenage son was “acting a little strange?”
The cost of total security is too high, in actual dollars and cents, as well as loss of personal freedom. Bear that in mind as you ponder these events and consider supporting legislation to strip those freedoms away.
The next right taken away may be one you cherish.