No, I’m not making light of this latest school shooting. I’m also not really discussing the event itself, since we’re still in the 48 Hour Irresponsible Media Speculation Phase that occurs after any critical incident. Seriously, look at this:
All but two of those topics are related to this, all of them loaded with bullshit. Some people are offering prayers, some are offering suggestions that those who are praying are full of shit. Everybody is either talking about how the killer was a card-carrying member of the NRA or Antifa or ISIS or an illegal alien, depending on which matching name they found on Facebook or whatever else they’re digging up in their desperate urge to satisfy their own confirmation biases.
We’ve seen this movie before and I’m not buying a ticket tonight. Do you want to have another gun control argument? I’m good with that, but I have another angle I’d rather explore. Namely, is there more we should be expecting authorities to do when someone is a known threat? Take a look at this very short clip. It’s only 25 seconds long, you ADHD freakazoid.
This is one of the more intriguing post-9/11 phenomenons. With certain exceptions like Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, you don’t hear as much as you used to that the shooter “was a quiet guy who kept to himself; so nobody saw this coming”. After over 16 years of the American population metamorphisizing into the paranoid and fearful entity that it has become, even high school students have become capable at performing competent threat assessments on their friends and neighbors. All of those DHS “See Something, Say Something” posters, workplace violence seminars, and school counseling seminars we’ve been attending over the years clearly are in fact paying off in that regard. Believe it or not.
Unfortunately, we see time and again that even though we have gotten better at identifying threats than we’ve ever been before, we still aren’t good at preventing them. There have been a few killers, like the Orlando Pulse Nightclub jihadist, who were known to authorities but no action was taken. Law enforcement’s role is to prevent crime where it can through deterrence but if there isn’t a crime, then there isn’t really much it can do. Until one happens. In cases like this, it’s far too late.
Let’s assume that you’re not in the “GIVE UP YOUR GUNS NOW, YOU REDNECK PRICK” contingent, or that you accept that we’re just not going to give up our guns, and that you’d like to see a change in the way these threats are identified and handled before anybody gets hurt. What would you favor?
Say that law enforcement officials were fully capable of providing accurate threat assessments which could positively identify a dangerous suspect profile and predict the likelihood of that person committing an act of mass violence. We don’t need psychics or anything, Tom Cruise. Just surveys based on known profiles of previous killers. What should be done next? Local law enforcement doesn’t really have the resources to put a tail on every kook running around, even in a smaller town.
What about some sort of electronic monitoring? Would you support someone like Cruz who has been identified as a threat having to wear a bracelet and sensors that could track his movements until such time as he is deemed no longer a threat? The system could track if he visits a location at which he might be able to acquire weapons or explosives. Sensors could detect the presence of smokeless gunpowder. Maybe he could even be outfitted with listening devices while an application listens for key words. Or a program could be uploaded to his electronics that monitors for dangerous social media usage. If there are any suspicion indicators, law enforcement could be notified.
I know this sounds radical and like a massive civil liberties headache, but this level of surveillance is fully consistent with what the US government can do through a FISC for suspected foreign spies. Would it be worth it to apply this level of surveillance to an American citizen if it might save lives? Can we trust local law enforcement with this power? How would you see it implemented?
I’m of the opinion that a maniac will always find a way to maniac. Yes, we could focus on the weapons that are used to carry out attacks, but a motivated attacker in a disarmed state can still acquire explosives, flammables, edged weapons, and vehicles to carry out attacks. Instead of taking their dangerous toys away, how do we stop them?
I think the technology already exists, but we’re not (yet) willing to use it. Are you? If not, what would it take to reassure you that it would work and be reasonably safe from abuse?