Shouldn't We Do More to Avoid Mass Deaths By Crazed Gunmen?

December 14, 2012, 3:02 PM by  Allan Lengel

During my visits to Israel, the idea of security was never far off. At the train station, at the bus stop, I went through a metal detector. An armed guard checked packages and asked if I was carrying a gun.

After Sept. 11, 2001, I thought the U.S. would have second thoughts about security in public places, particularly with the threat of terrorism looming here.  

I figured maybe places like malls or movie theaters might consider screening customers like in Israel.

But no. That hasn’t happened. Americans have a way of conveniently forgetting or deferring such concerns until the next tragedy.

All around the country, we’re seeing all too often crazed gunmen -- homegrown terrorists -- open fire on innocent citizens. Each incident is a reminder that we probably aren’t doing enough.

We had the shooting in the Century movie theater in Aurora, Colo.

Earlier this week we had a gunman open fire in suburban Portland, Ore., in Clackamas County, an area I once covered as a reporter for The Oregonian newspaper.

And on Friday, we had a crazed gunman open fire in an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. Police confirm he killed 27 people, 20 of them children, before apparently shooting himself.

I won’t get into our ridiculous lax gun laws. Or our mental health system, which has been overwhelmed nationally and dismantled locally by Gov. John Engler. All these shootings have one thing in common: The shooters were mentally unstable. That’s a whole other issue we need to address.

But as far as security, we’re at a crossroads. Again.

It’s not that the idea of posting armed guards in a movie theater is so far fetched.

In fact, the Americana theater on Greenfield Road in Southfield had some shootings in the 1980s and ended up posting armed guards at doors and made people go through metal detectors. The theater eventually shut down and vanished.

Do we really need to do that? Do we need to lock all school doors? Do we need metal detectors at entrances of malls and movie theaters?

I think the answer for now is no, not until it’s proven we really need it. In other words, only when too many people die.

What’s too many for Americans?

That’s a very good question. 

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