I have written a few posts where I talk about “big brother”. Mostly where I imply that the government is watching us in some way or another. I am usually saying that to demonstrate that we have no sense of privacy anymore. But there is another side to that argument, one that I will explore today. And that is whether or not security cameras keep us safe. Or is it just the perception of safety that we get from the cameras themselves?
Las Vegas is one of the most heavily surveilled cities in America. Like many U.S. cities, Vegas has invested heavily in surveillance as a counter-terrorism measure. Particularly since 9/11. Which makes you wonder how the mass shooting that took place on Sunday could occur? If there are that many cameras watching your every move, wouldn’t one have caught this? But Las Vegas, like many cities before it, have found that these cameras don’t prevent mass acts of violence.
In the documentary, the Las Vegas Sun, it was determined that virtually every corner of the resort district of Las Vegas is being recorded at all times of the day. But none of these cameras (or any other cameras) actually stopped the shooter from doing what he did. And what he did was stock a small arsenal of automatic weapons in his hotel room. That was before breaking his hotel window, and shooting into a crowd of innocent people.
In 2013, Nevada provided the strip with a $350,000 federal grant to install an additional 37 pivot and zoom cameras in order to help deter crime. But is that necessary when most of the casinos on the strip are running thousands of cameras already? Another reason this is so impractical is how long it takes police to watch the tape in order to find a suspect. Which is what happened during the Boston Marathon bombing. It took the Boston Police three days to watch the thousands of hours of recordings it had logged. While no further crimes were committed by the offender during that time, it could have happened.
These two scenarios are wildly different, but it does speak to whether or not security cameras are a good idea. If you’ve ever been to London, England, you will be familiar with the CCTV program. The London Police estimate that about a decade ago, for every 1000 security cameras installed, only one crime was solved. Which makes you wonder if it’s even worth the money put in? The point I’m trying to make is that the security cameras didn’t make a difference in Las Vegas this past week. So what could have helped prevent this senseless act of violence?
You guessed it – stricter gun laws. In Nevada, it is legal to openly carry long guns, such as a rifle or a shotgun. No permit is required for these guns. Which means, people can walk down the Las Vegas strip with a military-style rifle out for all the world to see. The casinos themselves can ban these weapons, but that doesn’t stop someone from carrying it around outside. It is also legal to own a fully automatic firearm. Such as a machine gun. In order to carry a fully automatic firearm though, you have to go through an extensive federal background check. Which can take up to a year to complete.
In the case on Sunday, there was no legal reason why Paddock wouldn’t have passed the background check. He had never had any run-ins with the law, other than a citation that went through the court system without a hitch. Something that anyone could have had. The solution, however, isn’t the background check. The problem is that people shouldn’t be allowed to carry these kinds of weapons. Ever. There is no need outside of a military operation.
So many people lost their lives on Sunday, and it all could have been prevented. We know that surveillance isn’t necessarily the answer, but what Republican lawmakers aren’t talking about is what could have stopped this. And what could have stopped this is a gun law that doesn’t allow someone to get an automatic weapon. So why are we still talking about this after so many mass shootings? Why hasn’t this become the law?