After the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado that claimed the lives of 12 people and injured dozens more, the public debate is shifting to the tactics that could prevent such a terrible event from happening again. The use of metal detectors is becoming a central issue, but is this the best approach for stopping potential threats in public places? Here is a piece I wrote about this matter for Defense Media Network.

Aurora, Colo. Movie Theater Shooting Fallout – Will America become the land of the free and the home of the metal detector? – Defense Media Network

The horrific movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado has spawned a number of debates across the country. Debates rage over gun control and second amendment rights, reporting mental illness or suspect behavior to authorities, or whether there is a need to put metal detectors in public gathering places.

All of those debates have been vibrant and passionate, if not outright blistering if you hear the radio talk shows or visit blog chat rooms, but let’s take a look at the metal detector issue.

Think of all of the places that we go today where we encounter a metal detector of some sort:

    • Airports
    • Government office buildings
    • Courthouses
    • Law enforcement facilities
    • National monuments and museums (e.g., Smithsonian, Statue of Liberty, etc.)
    • Junior highs and high schools
    • Cruise ships; and so forth.

In each of these places there are a number of very good historical and strategic reasons that metal detectors are used. They not only protect the staff and visitors to those facilities, but literally screen for those persons who might be looking to unleash harm. As a visitor to those places, it’s not unusual for you to know that you’ve got to open your bags/briefcase, empty your pockets, and shove your jacket and other items through a conveyor to be x-rayed or screened.

For as reassuring as it may be to know that no one short of armed security in the place you are entering is carrying a weapon, going through these measures can also be a nuisance and hassle. It’s also not an absolute guarantee that someone hasn’t found a means of bringing another type of weapon to cause murder and mayhem. There are no limits to the creativity of disturbed or evil individuals in terms of technology usage and deviancy – a lesson we are seeing each day as we learn more about the Aurora shooter.

Read the full article.

Rich Cooper blogs primarily on emergency preparedness and response, management issues related to the Department of Homeland Security, and the private sector’s role in homeland security. Read More