New Orleans In the age of global and domestic terrorism we all now have a new identity. We’re soft targets. Hard targets have guards, gates, barriers, and buildings. The rest of us are out in the open, on the street, in our offices, at our cafes and coffeehouses, doing work, living life: soft targets.
Mi companera, reading the papers, regularly adds new cities and countries to my “no fly” list. For example Pakistan was a regular during the Al Qaeda years. Nothing against the country. One of our former ACORN Canada board members has regularly reached out wondering when we will organize there. Someday, my brother, someday. New countries go on and off the list regularly. That’s the way of the world for soft targets.
I’m always allowed to come home, but we’re soft targets here as well while sitting in movie theaters, going to school, showing up at work, or whatever.
We can’t expect to live our lives under lock and key or believe that the government or the police can protect us every minute. In New Orleans, I returned from overseas recently and going through the daily papers to catch up, saw the front page headlines over four straight days screaming about the incredible delay in police response time. When you have to schedule a day off to wait for the police to show up when you call for help, you quickly realize that you are on your own in soft target land. A knock on the door at 230 AM on a recent morning in response to a call about a neighborhood problem that morning is just the new normal. I asked the cop if it wasn’t kind of late for a visit, and he answered, “We’re the late shift.” Whatever.
In Paris, AK-47’s were the weapon of choice. There have been discussions about banning the purchase of such assault weapons in the USA, but, lord no, says the NRA and their toadying political midgets.
Preparing Guns and Kids by Frank Strier for publication in coming weeks by Social Policy Press, Professor Strier makes the point repeatedly that, sadly, AK-47’s get the press, but it’s the simple, cheap, and deadly effective handgun that too often makes targets of us all with mortal consequences. Rifles of any kind are far, far down the list.
Yet, legislating safer sales, distribution, storage, and handling of handguns has become the third rail of red and blue state politics. Hillary Clinton may be soft on Wall Street, but Bernie Sanders is soft on gun control, and that could help him in some states. On the Republican side, no one will touch it. In Louisiana, the Democratic candidate for Governor is so far withstanding huge, vicious attacks from the Republican Senator in the runoff because he can’t be labeled as anti-gun or pro-abortion.
Look around the world and the flowers and tears from Paris to Beirut, and there were more before and more to come. Look outside your door all around the United States.
We have to do better. There can be better gun control without a total ban. There can be better police protection and security without clearing our streets and profiling our people.
In the meantime, we’re all soft targets. Living the life.