Rethinking Civil Defense - Interesting OpEd Piece in Colo Springs Paper


April 18, 2007, 10:02 AM
Here's an individual who's thinking pragmatically.

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Tim James
April 18, 2007, 10:20 AM
Smart of him to acknowledge that the only way to actually end these things is for society to magically move toward better values like a giant wave. Unfortunately, you can't legislate that, so one has to do something in the meantime.

What's interesting is that hardening soft targets can be both a bottom-up and top-down approach. Individuals can choose to use the best tools to defend themselves when the SHTF. In the same way, governments and leaders can harden targets by running smart catastrophe drills in schools, allowing teachers and workers to be armed, or any other outside-the-box solution.

On the other hand, changing society's values seems ineffective from both a bottom-up and top-down approach. Individuals obviously can't change the parenting techniques in little Jimmy's house before he shoots everyone. They can change their own, but that may not help them in the end. I usually hate it when people instantly look for the top-down solution, but there may be an opportunity for that: black leaders could criticize the mainstreaming of prison and gang culture, the media could do less sensationalization of massacres, or the government could roll back a lot of its programs to teach people self-reliance and confidence. All of these seem unlikely and perhaps ineffective.

It's an interesting problem.

April 18, 2007, 10:45 AM
Common sense in the press???? I must be dreaming.

April 18, 2007, 10:49 AM
Post the text, it stays here forever after the link is long broken.

Our View - Wednesday
April 17, 2007 - 10:49PM

Easy targets
Rethinking ‘civil defense’ in an era of random violence

The search for meaning, motives and culprits in the Virginia Tech shootings began even before all the next of kin were notified, as Americans again tried to make sense of the senseless. But we can almost guarantee that the selfflagellations and legislative overreactions to come — are there doubts that we will see a Safer College Campus Act of 2007? — will miss important points.

You can’t legislate a cure for depraved minds or sick souls. You can’t legislate a risk-free society — at least not without creating a police state that contradicts the values of personal liberty, limited government and openness most Americans hold dear. Guns aren’t to blame. Charlton Heston and the NRA aren’t to blame. Lax campus security isn’t to blame — unless we can all say we operate with 20/20 hindsight.

Ultimately, Cho Seung-Hui is to blame. Better understanding what demons drove him or what methods he used is only nominally useful in terms of preventing repeats, given the unsettling randomness of such events.

What we come away with, aside from a profound sadness for the victims and their families, is a reminder of how vulnerable this country is to such attacks. The gunman wasn’t politically motivated, from what we know. He wasn’t a terrorist, in the conventional sense. He was a 23-year-old “loner” with a chip on his shoulder and homicidal tendencies.

But the carnage underscores the endless variety of “soft targets” this society presents an individual or group bent on mass murder. It’s not practical to harden every potential soft target out there. And leaving security exclusively to the “professionals” in government won’t work, not because they aren’t trying their best but because the list of potential targets and threats far exceeds their capacity to respond.

When violence is so arbitrary, and our ability to predict or pre-empt it is so limited, “first responders” often arrive too late to do much more than carry away the injured, tag the dead and process the crime scene.

Assuming such random acts of violence will remain a contemporary fact of life, we believe the ultimate answer lies in re-thinking the concept of civil defense, to shift more of the responsibility for homeland security onto the average citizen, somewhat following the Israeli model. It’s time to think boldly and creatively about hardening soft targets by better preparing, equipping and possibly arming average citizens to serve as civilian response teams.

Some might find the idea of arming school teachers extreme. But they won’t think it so far-fetched if the U.S. experiences a schoolhouse terror attack of the type that took place in Chechnya not so long ago. A metal detector in every school house, college building or public space isn’t affordable or practical — not to mention, foolproof. But perhaps bank teller-like “panic buttons” could be built into many schools, and special civilian response teams could be established in government offices and private businesses that choose to participate.

These are just starter ideas. But the venerable old concept of civil defense, which served the nation well from Concord through the Cold War, but which has more recently fallen along the wayside, needs to be revived in response to the threat of terrorism and random violence.

Reinventing civil defense won’t guarantee complete safety. Nothing can do that. But it might help harden many soft targets, complicate the calculations of groups or individuals planning mass murder — and once again instill in Americans the idea that self-defense is not just the responsibility of government, but of the community and the individual.

snip.... unrelated opinion below this

April 18, 2007, 11:02 AM
Impressive thinking. Is the Gazette much of a paper, size- or influence-wise? The writer seems too sane to ever make it to the big MSM. :(

April 18, 2007, 11:11 AM
The Gazette is probably either the 3rd or 4th read paper in southern Colorado being in a close race with the Pueblo Chieftain. Both the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News would be bigger by far tho .

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