AMU DHS Homeland Security Legislation

Protecting Citizens Without Trampling on Their Civil Liberties

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By Allison G. S. Knox
Edge Contributor

Public policies are a means for a community to redirect or end an imbalance that is creating societal problems. Many times these policies have good intentions. But sometimes they create other problems elsewhere in a community.

Active shooter incidents are one of these problem areas. In essence, the explosion of active shooter incidents has created policy intersections that are not only problematic, they are particularly complicated as security and policy experts come together to solve this problem.

Public Policy Corrections and New Legislation Are Needed

When emergencies and disasters occur, the American people want to see strong measures taken to prevent a similar emergency or disaster from happening. Active shooter incidents have forced lawmakers to contemplate new legislation in a variety of different areas to help stop these incidents.

Discussions about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), mental health counseling and tighter gun control laws have certainly been part of this dialogue. Despite all this, law enforcement agencies are ultimately caught between a rock and a hard place. They must work to manage active shooter incidents, while often coupled with the notion that they can’t infringe on civil liberties. This policy convergence makes it particularly difficult to protect the general public while not infringing on their civil liberties.

We all want active shooter incidents to end. But the increase in such acts in recent years only adds to the general concern about public safety and physical security. And, as a nation, we look to our elected officials to institute policies to correct these imbalances. In many respects, law enforcement will hesitate before using extreme force so as to not concern citizens or to infringe on their civil liberties. This isn’t always a good combination.

Active Shooter Threats and Civil Liberties

Conversely, people aren’t exactly free if they’re regularly being threatened by active shooter incidents. They need their physical security protected and during active shooter incidents, this needs to be primary at all costs. Law enforcement is often in a serious security conundrum when it comes to prevention efforts. In some respects, they need tactical equipment to help them prevent and manage such incidents, but sometimes the general public might see their actions as an infringement on civil liberties. The policy conundrum, therefore, becomes an intricate web that elected officials must navigate to help the police while also protecting the general public.

In essence, active shooter incidents create a number of obstacles that hamper individuals’ safety. They also present obstacles from a security standpoint. These obstacles are complicated to solve because of the numerous policy implications and convergences that occur when experts and lawmakers come together to discuss these issues. Of course, a solution out there, but reaching it might mean establishing policies that put physical security in place ahead of civil liberties.

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