I get off the bus at the university, and three things happen: I’m asked for ID, my bag is searched and I walk through a metal detector. Every single day. When I go to the mall, the same routine. When I eat out, a security guard sits outside the restaurant. When I was in elementary school three teachers had guns with them all the time. Because we’re not allowed to bring guns into public spaces. Here in Israel, we know people want to kill us. For that reason we take extreme security measures to prevent them from doing so.
When I was ten years old visiting my grandmother in the States, I went to see a movie with a friend of mine. When we got to the door of the mall I did a double-take. “What did you expect? Metal detectors?” he asked. I did.
My family moved to Israel in 1998 leaving all of our extended family behind. I remember once asking my uncle why they didn’t come visit us, and his response being that it was not safe in Israel. This struck me as odd, because I feel much safer in Israel than I ever do in the United States. Sometimes I think this might just be because I feel at home in Israel, but maybe there’s something to it. Maybe I feel safe in Israel because I’m surrounded by soldiers and security guards all the time.
In Jodi Picoult’s book Ninteen Minutes, one of the characters recalls going to pick up her daughter in school and noticing that nobody asked who she was or what she was doing there. It makes you wonder, what if someone had?
I wonder about the man who fired shots at the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. What if someone had asked him for ID, or checked his bag, or made him walk through a metal detector? If he were not allowed to bring a gun into the school, he would have had to plan much longer, increasing his chances of being stopped. Imagine if the school had an armed security guard. You might argue that someone who has made up his mind to commit this kind of act can not be stopped by any amount of security. We may not be able to stop someone from acquiring a gun. We may not be able to stop him from shooting. But we might be able to stop him from killing 20 children.
You can talk all you want about the right to bear arms, but we can’t ignore that fact there are dangers that come with it. We might be able to save more lives if we stop being naïve about the fact that that people use guns to kill.