Friday, April 29, 2011

Security pipedreams

Can I just point out that U.S. gun laws are nuts?

The AP reports:

More than 200 people suspected of ties to terrorism bought guns in the U.S. last year legally, FBI figures show.

The 247 people who were allowed to buy weapons did so after going through required background checks as required by federal law. ...About the same number of people suspected of ties to terrorism also successfully purchased guns in the U.S. in 2009.

The government can only prevent people from buying guns for any of 11 reasons. Convicted felons and illegal immigrants, for example, cannot buy weapons. But the terrorist watch list is different. People become convicted felons only after a court process and an opportunity to defend themselves.

The watch list is secret and generated at the government's discretion. It is not a list of people convicted of terrorism crimes. The list of about 450,000 people includes suspected members of al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations, terror financiers, terror recruiters and people who attended training camps. People's names are added to and removed from the watch list every day, and most people never know whether they're on it.

I've pretty much stopped writing about no fly lists and watch lists because everyone who cares has noticed that they make no sense and constitute an ongoing abuse of arbitrary power in the name of "security." (Click the "no fly list" label in the right column for more than you want to know about this madness.)

Patrick Smith who writes "Ask the Pilot" for Salon recently described an experience that illustrates the utter absurdity of security theater, not to mention the bullying behavior of some TSA workers. Since he's often flying the plane, therefore uniquely well placed to accomplish any nasty plot he might be planning, his repeated brushes with this nonsense clarify how insane the security obsession has become. He concludes:

In the United States alone, more than 2 million people fly every day, subject to all manner of tedium and humiliation, yet there is virtually no protest either from citizens or their leaders. Certainly there is no political will to get things changed. People grumble, shake their heads, and move along in a woozy capitulation to a security apparatus that is both repressive and ineffective.

This will continue, presumably, until disaster strikes, at which point the screams for accountability will be shrill and righteous and entirely too late.

Separately, perhaps, from all of this, we need to acknowledge the reality, however unfortunate, that no amount of airport security is going to stop a terrorist who is clever and resourceful enough. There will always be a way to circumvent whatever measures we put in place, no matter how draconian. ...

1 comment:

Darlene said...

The power of the NRA is greater than that of the President, it seems. Why any citizen needs a gun is beyond me, unless it is for legal hunting.

I live in a State that is so crazy they just made the Colt the official gun. And they did that after the carnage in my city. It is insane.

I am now afraid to go anyplace where there is a crowd. Who knows if another Loughner will show up.

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