In light of the Sandy Hook tragedy, renewed calls for gun control is hardly surprising. This isn’t unusual. People, now terrified that the same thing could have happened to their children, turn to their elected officials to do something to make the problem go away.
This isn’t the first time this has happened either. After 9/11, people wanted something that would make sure this would never happen again. What we got was the Department of Homeland Security, the TSA, and the Patriot Act. The Fourth Amendment was gutted in an effort to catch “terrorists.” Our ability to travel freely is now interfered with by a group of people who look more like the cast of a sitcom than a barrier against terrorist acts. But the politicians “did something.”
Now, in light of Sandy Hook, we find ourselves at the same crossroads. Battle lines are being drawn as you read this. People who don’t even consider themselves pro-gun control are calling for limits in the round capacity of magazines. Others are expecting gun rights advocates to defend reasons why certain features should be legal, rather than understanding that they don’t change the function of the weapon in any way and therefore a ban would be idiotic.
The kneejerking is normal. On May 31, 2012, I went through it myself. That’s the day I learned that Kimberly Lynn Layfield was murdered in a shooting at the Cafe Racer in Seattle, Washington. Kim was a good friend of mine from high school, someone I treasured knowing more than almost anyone else. My initial reaction? That my views on guns had been wrong for all these years. (For the record, I don’t know where Kim or her family stood on gun control on that day, nor how her family stands on it now)
Written by Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
If you needed proof of politicians’ sensitivity to, and encouragement of, persistent terrorism fears, look no further than today’s hearing in the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security. It’s called “Eleven Years After 9/11 Can TSA Evolve To Meet the Next Terrorist Threat?” and it’s being used to feature—get this—a report arguing for a “smarter, leaner” Transportation Security Administration.
Could the signaling be more incoherent? The hearing suggests both that unknown horrors loom and that we should shrink the most visible federal security agency.
Lace up your shoes, America—we’re goin’ swimmin’!
Our federal politicians still can’t bring themselves to acknowledge that terrorism is a far smaller threat than we believed in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks, and that the threat has waned since then. (The risk of attack will never be zero, but terrorism is far down on the list of dangers Americans face.)
The good news is that the public’s loathing for the TSA is just as persistent as stated terrorism fears. This at least constrains congressional leaders to do make gestures toward controlling the TSA. Perhaps we’ll get a “smarter, leaner” overreaction to fear.
In a new video from the Cato Institute, Malou Innocent, Christopher Preble, and David Rittgers note that it has been 10 years since the United States invaded Afghanistan, which serves as a reminder that our policy has changed over the years to nation-building and occupation and that it is time to withdraw from the Graveyard of Empires:
During Sunday evening’s game, important to New York City given the tragic events 10 years prior, Major League Baseball forced players from the New York Mets to take off NYPD and FDNY hats they were wearing in the dugout:
Mets players wanted to wear the hats of first responders Sunday night while they played the Cubs on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, but Major League Baseball “said it’s a no-go,” said Josh Thole, the Mets’ union representative.
“They contacted the club and said it’s an absolute ‘no chance’ at all,” Thole said a few hours before the Mets lost, 10-6, in 11 innings at Citi Field. “I guess the fines would be (prohibitive). I spoke with some of the guys and with Terry (Collins) and he said the same thing. They came down on the club very hard and there’s nothing we can do.
“They sent out a big memo that was very adamant about what they wanted done.”
So the Mets wore black hats with a blue bill and an American flag sewn on the left side. But during batting practice and a moving pregame remembrance ceremony, the Mets wore hats reading “NYPD,” “FDNY,” “PAPD” and initials of other first-responder organizations. Afterward, each player was supposed to autograph his hat and they were slated to be auctioned to benefit various Sept. 11 charities.
Baseball prefers that teams commemorate specific causes with uniform patches or batting-practice displays rather than actual game hats, MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said in an email. MLB doesn’t want to set a precedent for teams choosing to honor different events. The Nationals, for instance, wanted to wear hats honoring Navy Seals in a game earlier this season, but MLB said no.
Ten years after the horrific events of 9/11, America braced for other possible attacks to mark the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in history. Phone calls from my mother outlined how authorities believed new terrorists were in the country, and how panel vans had been stolen. She even called to tell me that they believed there was a dirty bomb involved. In the end, there was nothing.
However, a mother’s reports of what she saw on CNN are only part of the story. ABC news reports that law enforcement and military elements were scrambled for even more benign reasons.
Fighter planes were scrambled, bomb squads were called, FBI command centers went on alert and police teams raced to airports today, but in the end two separate airline incidents were caused by apparently innocent bathroom breaks and a little “making out,” federal officials said.
On that horrible day ten years ago, we were told that we must not change as a nation or else “the terrorists win”. Well folks, I have to ask if they already have won. The Patriot Act made it easier to spy on American citizens. New similar laws are being created to combat crimes that haven’t needed that level of snooping before.
We now have vehement arguments over houses of worship being located in particular places as a result of that day. Right or wrong, these arguments just didn’t happen pre-9/11. They just didn’t. No one seemed to care.
During the debate on Monday evening, Ron Paul was booed by many in the room for pointing out that our foreign policy towards the Middle East has largely served as the motive for terrorist attacks against the United States. Seeking an opportunity to score some political points by demagoguing what Paul said, Rick Santorum claimed that Paul was blaming America for 9/11 and repeated the common talking point that terrorists hate us for our freedoms. You can watch video of the exchange here.
Paul didn’t blame America for anything, and Santorum knows it. Moreover, Islamic terrorists don’t hate us for our freedoms. Anyone that has spent 10 minutes reading up on Islamic terrorism can figure that out. But if you don’t believe me, listen to Michael Scheuer; who served as head of Alec Station, commonly referred to as the CIA’s “Bin Laden Unit.”
Ten years ago today, 19 terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people after hijacking airplanes and flying them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Realizing their fate, Passengers on United Flight 93 fought back, preventing an attack on the Capitol in Washington. Their plane would crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. As soon as Americans realized what happened, we knew we were at war.
I was 20 years-old at the time of the attacks. My plans for the day were to pick up a couple of records that had been released that day and head into work for a shift I’d picked up for a friend. After a quick phone conversation with my girlfriend at the time (she was a student at UGA), I got on the web. She sent me a IMs almost immediately telling me to turn on the TV. If I remember correctly, the South Tower had just been hit. When I wasn’t working or sleeping for the next two weeks, I was watching coverage of the aftermath of the attacks.
That day caused me to be more vocal about my political beliefs, and much of what has happened since then has helped them evolve; particularly on foreign policy, privacy and personal liberty.
I prefer to stay away from political statements involving 9/11 today. It’s a day of somber remembrance, not one – at least for me – to debate policy. There will be plenty of time for that later. Remember to take a moment out of your day to remember the victims of these terrible attacks.
Let’s be honest, the Osama bin Laden story won’t end in the next few hours. The biggest victory in the war on terror has got to be good for more than one 24 hour news cycle. As we learn more about the operation, there are more questions that are asked. Some of them aren’t easy questions either.
For example, the tidbit that started the whole thing, the nickname of the courier, was learned via water boarding. The “enhanced interrogation technique” has been the subject of much criticism, including the fact that information learned that way was often unreliable. Yet, this little tidbit obtained just that way snowballed into the intelligence that lead us to bin Laden.
Other questions stem from how long it took to finally launch an operation. In President Obama’s defense (and I hate defending him), military operations take time to plan. Teams specially train for just that mission, rehearsing it over and over and over, just to make it automatic. It’s not like the movies where they learn something and launch a mission the next day. They’ll do it if they have to, but there wasn’t a need. Osama had been in that house for six years. He wasn’t going anywhere.
Obviously, there are more questions. Some I could probably answer, some I can’t. However, for the time being, we just need to be glad that there has been a victory. We need to hope that this does as some say and cripples the terrorist organization to a point when they’re no longer a threat. We need to pray that this is over and that now there will never be a repeat of 9/11.
A friend sent me a text message yesterday asking what my opinion was of this; meaning the death of Osama bin Laden. Believe it or not, it’s not something I really went into to deep thought about. Everything happened so late on Sunday night and it seemed so unreal.
After thinking about it for a few minutes, trying to process the events of the last day, my opinion is like that of nearly all Americans…I’m glad Osama bin Laden is dead. I’m not the type of person that goes out into the streets and expresses this satisfaction, unlikely many from my generation. But this man was responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people and he represented pure evil. He deserved to die.
Below is the full text and video of President Barack Obama’s address to the nation on the death of Osama bin Laden - the face of al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization responsible for the attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001. For reaction to the announcement, please visit here.
Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.
It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory — hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.