Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Weapons of Mass Destruction

We now know who was responsible for the mass shootings at Virginia Tech and are relieved that he was not a terrorist, or someone who had been in the country for a short time, or an illegal alien. Or a Muslim. Nobody to carelessly blame, just a young man, troubled and/or angry and determined to make someone pay for his torment.

But suppose it had been a terrorist attack? It is frightening what one person with a handgun can do: a handgun firing the most common round manufactured, easy to purchase legally and to transport.
This incident has no obvious homeland security dimensions. In other words, homeland security measures did not fail because they do not apply. But it ought to be troubling to those who protect us from terrorists because it isn't the least bit obvious why those who do wish our destruction have not attacked us in the manner of the Virginia Tech
Forget airplanes, skyscrapers, bridges, tunnels and bombs, dirty or otherwise. Anyone who is prepared to die and who has a few hundred dollars' worth of gun and ammo purchased in the morning can create carnage in the afternoon.
massacre or the Long Island RailRoad shooting spree in 1993, or the DC sniper rampage, which had the nation's capital and environs terrorized for weeks in 2002.
Low-Tech Mayhem

Forget airplanes, skyscrapers, bridges, tunnels and bombs, dirty or otherwise. Anyone who is prepared to die and has a few hundred dollars' worth of gun and ammo purchased in the morning can create carnage in the afternoon.

And then a week later, someone else, somewhere else, the same thing.

And so on.

That description fits everyone who hates us and plenty of others. So why haven't we been subjected to this sort of thing by our enemies?

If our leaders are not thinking about the implications of these types of incidents in the context of national security, they certainly should be, without fear that they will have to take sides in the never-ending Second Amendment debate. If we can't have a discussion about this without getting silly about the right to bear arms and how many times a presidential candidate has been hunting, shame on us.

The disturbingly simply method of this attack is a national security matter. How can the easily replicated, methodical killing of more than 30 innocents be thought of as anything else in the post 9/11 world?

[NOTE:An edited version of this post was published as a letter to the New York Times]

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