I'm sure you've all heard about the horrible tragedy in Colorado where a deranged gunman shot up a movie theater full of Batman fans who were excited to see a midnight showing of the new Dark Knight Rises, leaving 12 people dead and 58 wounded.
In the how-can-we-prevent-this-from-happening-again panic surrounding news of the massacre, many have taken to the internet to express ideas: Tighter gun control, metal detectors in movie theaters, guards standing watch at every emergency exit, etc. There's just one problem: none of these things will actually make anyone safer.
I am reminded of the time I was leading my sister's family on a touristy walk past the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. Outside was a group of protesters waving signs plastered with statements about the evils of guns and how outlawing them would prevent crime. My niece, who was about nine-years-old at the time, turned to her mother and asked if this was truly the case.
My sister responded by asking her a question: "What would happen if you made a law preventing good people from buying guns? Would they buy them?"
"No," my niece replied.
"And what about criminals?"
She paused, thought for a moment, and said, "That wouldn't stop them."
"So what happens when you make a law that means only bad people will have guns?"
"Oh," said my niece, suddenly wiser than a whole group of adult protesters.
Yes, outlawing guns might prevent a child from having the opportunity to pull a gun out of his dad's nightstand and accidentally shoot himself, but it will not prevent crime. The thing about criminals is that they are criminals. They will find ways to get around laws. Particularly criminals of the terrorist variety, who are bent on killing large groups of people, sometimes for no apparent reason.
This is why I can't help rolling my eyes every time I'm trudging through airport security with shoes off, my water bottle empty, and my 3 oz. liquids packed in a clear ziploc baggie. For heaven's sake, does this make anyone feel safer? There are so many easy ways to get around these ridiculous security measures it's almost hilarious. "Sorry Ma'am, but your bottle of lotion is 5 ounces. That isn't allowed... Oh, but you have a box of could-be-anything medications and needles? And six cans of pre-made 'baby formula'? Go right through. Hold on, I need to wave that guy through who is wheeling six barrels of 'beer' to the restaurant down the hall."
And now, thanks to this latest tragedy, we have the general uneasiness that was expressed by one woman I saw on the news who said she wouldn't see the Dark Knight in theaters because it was too "risky." "I'll rent it at home in six months," she said. Then, most likely, she hopped in her car, shot down the freeway at 80 miles an hour while chatting on the phone with her best friend, and had a near-miss with another driver who was busy texting. (Talk about risky).
Not to make light of the very real mental trauma involved when one hears about an act of terrorism, but, for the most part, going to a movie theater cannot be considered "risky." The isolated act of one psychopath does not make the entire world a more dangerous place.
Losing the ability to reason, however... Talk about dangerous.