21 April 2013

Calm analysis of the Boston Lockdown

OK, so...

This recent unpleasantness in Boston, along with the usual overreaction by the authorities, has gotten the American blogosphere into quite a stir.

On the one side, you have the pro-lockdown folks, many of whom are current or former LEO.  They're all like "Look, dude, this was an emergency!  Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to find these guys!"  On the other, anti-lockdown side, the opinion runs "If you can do this every time there's a so-called 'emergency,' where does it end?"

I stand mostly on the anti-lockdown side, although I will concede that both sides have a valid point.  How about we all just take five, calm down and discuss this thing rationally?  Like this:

  • It's in order for the authorities to 'lock down' an area immediately adjacent to or surrounding an incident, or where suspected terrorists are hiding, and order people not to leave their homes. On the other hand, it's not in order for them to enter homes without permission to search for those they're seeking. They need probable cause to do so, and a search warrant. If I'm in that position, I'll certainly refuse permission for a search, unless the officer(s) concerned can articulate both probable cause and immediate, overriding necessity. If they can't or won't, I'll resist any attempt to search my home without a warrant. Under such circumstances, they're the criminal(s) - not me!
  • If authorities restrict citizens to their homes to minimize the risk to them from dangerous individuals, it's incumbent upon those same authorities to allow those citizens to defend themselves if necessary. That means allowing them to possess effective means of defense: namely, firearms - and not just any firearms, but effective defensive weapons. Vice-President Biden notwithstanding, a double-barreled shotgun is not the most efficient means of defense. It's much harder to control and has a much shorter effective range than (say) an AR-15 rifle. Massachusetts is one of the most restrictive states in the Union in terms of gun rights, and Boston is even worse than the rest of the state. If the authorities there aren't in a position to protect or defend their people against attack, they need to lift those restrictions so that their people can defend themselves. Anything else is hypocrisy.
  • The authorities' response must be rational and proportionate to the threat. In Boston, it wasn't. They 'locked down' hundreds of thousands of citizens over many square miles of urban area, shut down rail traffic over more than 100 miles of track, re-routed air traffic, etc. This was a ridiculous over-reaction. In New York in 2001, Madrid in 2004, London in 2005, Mumbai in 2008 and many similar incidents, no city was entirely locked down like that (although, of course, individual buildings and specific areas were locked down). Boston's panicked reaction cost hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in economic damage. Chalk that up as a terrorist success. It must not happen again.

RTWT.  Let's start planning ahead here.


  1. One other thing on this lockdown. The citizens were told to stay indoors because the authorities know they have a bunch of cops that are just like you and m. Scared, nervous, etc and they didn't want any citizens getting shot as they stepped out from behind their garage say, by a nervous, and not well trained for this type of thing, cop. I'm not excusing this lockdown but I believe this was a factor

  2. Cities are the barometer of society. The willingness to become prisoner in their own home is a sign of the changing from being an individual to part of a collective.

    Personally, I think the entire event is troubling.


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