Following the tragic shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which claimed the lives of four Marines and a Navy petty officer last week, several U.S governors have implemented new security measures to combat the threat of domestic terrorism.
The Republican governors of Indiana, Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma have all issued commands for members of the National Guard to carry weapons in such places as recruitment centers, although that is not standard protocol. The temptation to ramp up security in the wake of such a tragedy is understandable, but a knee-jerk increase in militarization on our own soil is not the answer.
Indiscriminate acts of violence and those targeted at specific groups and institutions feed into our fear and make us painfully aware of how little we can do stop to the actions of individuals with their hearts set on inflicting pain and suffering. We live in a world in which innocent people are killed in our schools, churches, and nearly anywhere else we would assume security and peace of mind to be a given.
Given the litany of affronts to the national peace of mind, it is not hard to sympathize with the rationale that would have armed guards at every public location to prevent murderous rampage or act of terrorism. However, in our pursuit of protection, it is important to keep in mind what it is we are trying to protect and what we are willing to give in exchange for that sense of security.
Nearly as bad as the loss of life following tragedies such as these is the loss of peace of mind that never truly returns. Fear and paranoia begin to take root and culminate in an environment in which strangers can no longer trust one another, and it becomes more plausible to assume the worst of humanity.
The seemingly unending number of gruesome incidents has made it logical to assume that the only way we can maintain some semblance of security is by having armed guns waiting to shoot down the maniac who will undoubtedly appear to inflict harm upon our loved ones.
The idea of cultivating understanding and fostering environments of trust between individuals has become less appealing than the idea of simply preparing to shoot down problems at any time and place they may arise. When examining the cost of our security, it raises the question of whether this is the world we want to live in and if living in a state of perpetual fear is worth it.
We cannot be naïve, and we cannot deny that there are people in this world who wish to inflict harm on the world, regardless of the ideological motivations for their actions. However, the answer is not fear-mongering and the oversaturation of the nation with firearms in an attempt to counter every possible scenario of indiscriminate violence.
It is important to recognize acts of terror such as the one in Chattanooga as an anomaly we should work to prevent pre-emptively and holistically, not the new status quo we must conform to.