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Some Thoughts on the El Paso Shooting

August 7, 2019 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

A few thoughts in the wake of the horrendous white-supremacist
terrorist attack in El Paso:

We must be careful not to
let fear (and grief and anger) drive us to rashness.

  1. We should never forget that the purpose of terrorism is to
    terrorize. To the degree that we succumb to fear, that we alter our
    lives, or that we give up our freedoms, the terrorists win. It is
    not to diminish the horror of such events to recognize that we
    remain remarkably safe in this country. Your chances of being
    murdered by a terrorist of any kind remain smaller than your
    chances of drowning in a bathtub. We should not stop going to
    stores, eating at restaurants, having a drink in bars, or otherwise
    living our lives.
  2. In the wake of 9/11, we allowed fear to lead us into a host of
    measures that threatened our civil liberties. Muslims and Muslim
    Americans were obviously the most likely to be targeted, but all
    Americans were caught up in increased surveillance and other
    law-enforcement measures. Recall that the Patriot Act passed by a
    margin of 91-1. Now we see similar knee-jerk calls for the
    government to “do something.” Already there have been
    calls to regulate the Internet, ban video games, curtail free
    speech, and generally increase police powers. Gun-control advocates
    ratchet up their proposals with little regard for practicality or
    empirical evidence. And that doesn’t even include bizarre
    proposals like Sean Hannity’s call for transforming America
    into a virtual armed camp, with paramilitary forces surrounding
    schools, stores, and other locations. But as Benjamin Franklin once
    warned, “Those who would give up essential liberty to
    purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor
  3. None of this is to diminish the threat from nor the noxiousness
    of white supremacy. Nor is it a call for inaction. Certainly, there
    are things that the government can and should do. It is long past
    time to take violence from white supremacists as seriously as we do
    the threat from Islamic extremists. There may even be gun-control
    measures that can make us safer without infringing on our rights to
    self-defense or legitimate gun ownership. But whatever we do should
    be thoughtful and with full consideration of possible unintended
    consequences. Among other things, that means acting through the
    regular legislative process. Executive actions or hastily convened
    legislative sessions are invitations to abuse.
  4. A thoughtful decision needs to be based on data, not emotion.
    But that data is hard to come by, often biased, and subject to
    varying interpretations. To cite one example, President Trump
    stated that the rate of mass shootings has remained constant
    throughout the …read more

    Source: OP-EDS

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