Not one to let a good tragedy go to waste, New York State Senator Tony Avella (D-Queens) is working on legislation which would require theaters, malls, and stadiums to install metal detectors.
Avella told WINS-AM that in the wake of last week's movie theater shooting in Lafayette, LA, he decided "something has to be done and when you think about it, it's hard to realize that we live in a different world; but we do."
The senator plans to fund the presumably thousands of new metal detectors through a "public-private" partnership, which naturally means citizens will be on the hook for financing the growing security theater industry through both taxes and the costs that will be passed onto them by the businesses forced to install and maintain expensive machinery.
As Matt Welch and I have written previously, the now-mandatory metal detectors at Major League Baseball stadiums are not nearly as sensitive as airport detectors, making their effectiveness largely based on deterrence. To Avella, the airport-style misery soon to be bestowed on any experience in which large groups of people are assembled is well worth it if it saves even a single life.
Security expert Walter Enders, who is decidedly not in the "do something, anything" camp, said this about metal detectors at stadiums:
You're trying to get in the door, there's 20,000 people standing around outside. I could do a lot of damage there, just as easily as I could if I brought the thing inside. Maybe even more.
I had the same thought a few weeks ago, when I was stuck outside Yankee Stadium for almost an hour after the game had started, among thousands of other hapless fans herding ourselves into something vaguely resembling an orderly queue, all in the name of our safety. I looked out at the angry, impatient, confused crowd and thought that just one person intent on sowing chaos and mayhem wouldn't even need a gun or an IED; something as relatively innocuous as the explosive pop of a cherry bomb would have caused a stampede, sending people fleeing into the Bronx's busy six-lane Grand Concourse.
Try to imagine this level of generalized suspicion every time you go to a movie, a mall, a restaurant, a high school graduation, all in the name of "doing something" for our own security.
I would never be cowed by the terrible but highly unlikely prospect that I might be killed by a mass murdering gunman or a terrorist attack, but intrusive and excruciating security theater at the movies might be enough to make me just stay at home and watch Netflix.